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France asks ex-Thai PM to keep low profile in Paris

20/05/2010 - 17:15

PARIS (Reuters) - France Thursday urged exiled former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to refrain from making public statements during a visit to Paris later this month.

In an interview with Reuters Wednesday, Thaksin rejected any notion he was the stumbling block in failed talks between the government and anti-government protesters, who were driven out of their makeshift camp in central Bangkok by the army on Wednesday. Speaking from an undisclosed location, the ex-premier said the crackdown on "red shirt" protesters, which has killed scores of people, could degenerate into widespread violence.

"Given the context of violence in Thailand ... we informed Mr Thaksin, who is on a private trip, that he should avoid making any public displays or statements during his stay on our territory," French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bruno Valero said.

Thaksin had been scheduled to make a public appearance in Paris with a news conference on May 31 to discuss recent events in Bangkok.

The red shirts are made up of mainly members of the rural poor and urban working classes. Many are supporters of the twice-elected Thaksin, to whom they remain loyal because of his mould-breaking populist polices while in office from 2001-2006.

Thaksin was ousted in a coup and convicted of corruption in absentia.

Thai authorities restored order over most of the Thai capital Thursday but the peace looked fragile.

(Reporting by John Irish; editing by Matthew Jones)

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