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Last Updated:  Thursday, 20 March, 2003, 12:12 GMT
Thailand expels eight more Iraqis
A Thai police officer patrols on the flyover outside the U.S. embassy in Bangkok
Thailand has stepped up security
Thailand has decided to expel eight more Iraqis for national security reasons.

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said one of the eight was a close associate of a son of President Saddam Hussein.

Mr Thaksin said the eight had all entered the country on tourist visas, and had been in Thailand for some time.

The move follows Wednesday's decision to expel three low-level Iraqi diplomats from the Iraqi embassy in Bangkok.

That decision stemmed from what Mr Thaksin called co-operation between Thai and US intelligence agencies.

Thailand appeared to be acting partly in response to a US alert earlier this month that Iraqi agents were preparing to attack American interests in up to 60 countries.

The Thai leader said that if he allowed the eight alleged Iraqi tourists to remain "they could commit terrorist acts endangering the Thai people".

A government spokesman said the three diplomats and three other Iraqis were scheduled to leave Thailand on Thursday.

Four others had already left, while one Iraqi national who was ordered to leave remained unaccounted for, the spokesman said.

Thailand has traditionally been a close ally of the United States. Mr Thaksin said on Thursday that the country would not become involved in the war on Iraq.

"As Thailand is not a big country, we have to maintain good relations with all parties," the Thai prime minister said.

"At this moment we only ask (the United States) to be cautious and not to cause civilian damage. All actions should be limited to military targets," he added.


SEE ALSO:
Thailand expels Iraqi diplomats
19 Mar 03 |  Asia-Pacific



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