Thai Cabinet agrees to hold ASEAN summit during Feb 27-Mar 1


Thailand’s Cabinet yesterday agreed to hold the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit between February 27-March 1 in Bangkok as planned.

According to Veerasak Footrakul, permanent secretary for Foreign Affairs, the Cabinet during the weekly meeting yesterday decided to give an approval to the schedule, earlier discussed and agreed upon by ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan and Thailand’s Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya.

However, Veerasak said, the dates for discussions with ASEAN’s dialogue partners, comprising of China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, would be fixed later because the leaders of all 16 countries should not be preoccupied with their own concerns.

Veerasak Footrakul

In relation to a recent threat by the United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) – the supporters of ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, to block the ASEAN Summit site, Veerasak said the leaders of the dialogue partners will stand by their engagements and are not worried about the planned UDD protest as they have confidence that the Thai government could successfully organise the meeting and believe that normal situation has returned to Thailand.

He also said Thailand’s relations with Cambodia remains warm as Thai Foreign Affairs Minister Kasit Piromya is scheduled to visit the neighbour country later this month while Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva will also start visiting ASEAN’s neighbours soon, with Lao PDR as the first destination.

The ASEAN Summit has been postponed from last month, due to political unrest in Thailand which is taking turn to chair the ten-nation bloc, comprising Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Earlier on January 3, ASEAN Secretary-General Surin said after holding talks with Thai Foreign Minister Kasit that Thailand is now prepared to host the summit but is still awaiting a reply from China.

Dr. Surin then expressed confidence that the summit would help boost Thailand’s confidence in regard to the economy, social concerns and politics in relation to the international community.

The ASEAN secretary-general also disclosed that he had asked Kasit to speed up the appointment of Thailand’s permanent representative to ASEAN secretariat office since the liaison role is very important for both Thailand and the effective functioning of the regional bloc.

Kasit, meanwhile, said he would try to forward the remaining important documents which will be signed during the ASEAN summit for the consideration of Thailand’s House of Representatives on January 8 and 9.

The name of Thailand’s permanent representative to the ASEAN secretariat will be submitted to the Cabinet meeting for further endorsement, Kasit said.

In addition, Surin, former Thailand’s foreign minister, also said the world community is now regaining confidence in Thailand due to new Thai government which has taken office in line with the Thai constitution and is much expected to help reduce social divisions and tensions in the country.