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Najib arrives in Pattaya for Asean Summit

PATTAYA, 10 April 2009: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak arrived here today to attend the 14th Asean Summit and related summits, his first overseas official visit since taking over the helm of the government a week ago.

The government jet carrying the premier and his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, took off from the Royal Malaysia Air Force base in Subang at 3.20pm and landed at the Utapao Airport near here at 4.05pm.

They were received by Thai Deputy Prime Minister Korbsak Sabhavasu, Foreign Ministry Secretary-General Tan Sri Rastam Mohd Isa, and Malaysia’s Ambassador to Thailand, Datuk Husni Zai Yaakob.

The summit, themed Acting Together to Cope With Global Challenges, is also being attended by leaders from Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

Protests and security measures

Travelling under tight security, the motorcade carrying Najib and the Malaysian delegation was taken to the Pattaya Exhibition and Convention Hall (Peach), where more than 1,000 anti-government protestors blocked the entrance to the luxury resort where most of the participating heads of state and government are staying.

Earlier, protest leaders allegedly told thousands of supporters of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra at their mass rally near the government house that Najib and several other leaders were skipping the summits due to their protests.

The red-shirt protestors, who had paralysed several major roads in Bangkok with their blockades, are demanding that Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva resign and dissolve Parliament.

According to Rastam, the Thai government had given assurance to all visiting foreign heads that it had made adequate security preparations and contingency plans to cope with the demonstrators.

He said about 8,000 police personnel and soldiers had been deployed in Pattaya to provide security to the 16 leaders and hundreds of officials and media attending the summit. Several Thai navy ships are also on standby at the Gulf of Thailand facing the hotels.

Busy schedule

Despite the presence of anti-government protestors, a number of leaders have arrived here, including Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, his Vietnam counterpart Nguyen Tan Dung, and Singapore’s Lee Hsien Loong.

Leaders from the 10 Asean countries will be joined by their dialogue partners from China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India at the three-day summit.

Najib will have a busy schedule during his stay here, with several bilaterial meetings being scheduled, including one with Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.

On Saturday, 11 April, he will hold separate talks with Abhisit, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Japan’s Taro Aso, Singapore’s Lee and Australia’s Kevin Rudd.

On Sunday, the last day of the summit, Najib is scheduled to meet South Korean Prime Minister Lee Myung-Bak, New Zealand’s John Key and Hun Sen.

According to Rastam, new International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed and Foreign Minister Datuk Anifah Aman would also be attending the summit meetings.

He said Mustapa would join other Asean economic ministers to sign a free trade agreement with China, as well as a mutual recognition arrangement on good manufacturing practice (GMP) of medicinal products. — Bernama

See also: Asian summit still on in besieged Thailand

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