Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Wechachiwa said on Sunday that the case of alleged Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout whom the United States wants extradited and Moscow wants repatriated was in the courts but he would have to make the final decision.
"We don't want to upset relations with either country," Wechachiwa said in an interview with The Washington Post. "We wish that maybe the two should talk to each other and resolve it without getting us involved."
Abhisit, along with the leaders of other Southeast Asian nations, met with President Barack Obama on Friday.
Bout, 44, was arrested in March 2008 at the request of the United States. His extradition to the United States was ordered by the Thai appeals court on August 20. Bout claims he has never been involved in the arms trade and that there was no evidence of his involvement in the business.
On February 17, the United States brought new charges against Bout, accusing him of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), a U.S. federal law prohibiting the export of goods, technologies or services that pose an "unusual and extraordinary threat... to the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States."
The charges were passed over to the Thai criminal court two hours before the appeals court reached its verdict on the 2008 accusations. In accordance with Thai law, Bout cannot be extradited to the United States until the second charges are brought to court.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called the Thai court's decision politically motivated, and suggested it was made to please Washington. He said Moscow would seek Bout's repatriation.
MOSCOW, September 26 (RIA Novosti)