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Postponed Asean summit in June (Updated)

Updated 5:43pm, 21 April 2009

BANGKOK, 21 April 2009: The postponed Asean +6 Summit is likely to be held in Phuket in June, as many leaders are busy with their own domestic schedules in May and July, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said today.

He said the Foreign Ministry was currently checking with all the other 15 countries on a suitable date to hold the Summit which had to be called off on April 11, after thousands of anti-government protesters stormed the venue in Pattaya and forced its cancellation.

Abhisit, who had declared state of emergency in Bangkok and five surrounding provinces after the incident, said India would be busy forming a new government after its general election while two other countries are scheduled to announce their annual budget.

“The Foreign Ministry is contacting the participating countries and Asean Secretariat to set a new date, most probably it will be in June,” he told reporters after chairing the weekly cabinet meeting here.

Abhisit said the 16-nation summit could not be held in July as the Asean Foreign Ministers Meeting was scheduled to take place during the month, adding that the question of holding the event in another country did not arise at this junction, despite Thailand’s political turmoil.

The summit involving the 10-nation Asean with China, South Korea, Japan, Australia, India and New Zealand has been plagued with problems from the beginning, mostly due to the prolonged political crisis in Thailand.

It was supposed to have been held last December but the collapse of the Thai Government and closure of two major airports by protesters forced it to be delayed to the end of February. But only the 14th Asean Summit was held in Hua Hin, while Summits with dialogue partners were postponed to April as Chinese leaders were busy with their annual party congress.

Sadly, the Pattaya Summit brought shame to the Kingdom after protesters linked to ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra forced its cancellation, despite the arrival of most of the leaders at the resort city.

Abhisit said it was important to hold the summit as soon as possible as there were many agendas related to the global financial and economy crises.

China was supposed to sign a free trade agreement with Asean at the summit and announce a US$10 billion investment cooperation fund and offer US$15 billion in credit to member countries.

Thailand is also scheduled to hold the 15th Asean Summit in October. — Bernama

 

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