Monday, April 27, 2009

Thai PM: Postponed Summit Will Be in June


BANGKOK (The Irrawaddy News)— Thailand's prime minister said Sunday he hopes a regional summit meeting will be rescheduled for June after it was canceled earlier this month when anti-government protests stormed the venue.

Abhisit Vejjajiva, speaking in his weekly radio and television address to the nation, said the rescheduling of the meeting of government leaders in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations is now being coordinated among the 15 other countries involved.

Protesters seeking Abhisit's resignation forced the cancellation of the summit on April 11 after they stormed the hotel in which meetings were being held in the seaside resort of Pattaya. Some visiting leaders were evacuated by helicopter, adding to Thailand's embarrassment.

The country's reputation was further damaged the following week as riots by the protesters gripped the capital, Bangkok, in which two people were killed and 122 injured. The army suppressed the violence after several days, and the state of emergency in the capital was lifted Saturday.

"Every country wants to have the meeting soon so we can discuss ways to solve the global financial crisis," Abhisit said. "They want to see peace and order in our country and practical security measures."

Thai officials have said the meeting could be rescheduled for June in the Andaman Sea resort island of Phuket—an area more distant from the capital and more politically sympathetic to Abhisit.

Senior officials from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are expected to discuss the rescheduling at a meeting in Manado, Indonesia, on May 6-8.

The aborted meeting was supposed to be attended by Asean's 10 member countries and the leaders of its so-called dialogue partners—China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.

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