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July 12, 2008

Asean chief to Thailand: Appoint new FM quick
Secretary General of Asean Dr Surin Pitsuwan has called for a quick appointment of Thai foreign minister to prevent any "vacuum of leadership" as Thailand is assuming the Asean chair later this month, a local daily reported.

In a phone interview from New York, Surin told the Nation that it is important that Thailand maintains momentum that the government has been building during the past five months. "Thailand must provide a strong leadership to Asean," he said. He is attending a major UN meeting to discuss the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis in Burma.

Foreign Minister Nopphadon Patama said a few hours after he arrived in  Bangkok that he would resign on Monday to take responsibility of his handling of Preah Vihear Temple.

Singapore is holding the annual Asean ministerial meeting from 21-24 July. After the meeting, Thailand will take up the Asean chair from Singapore.

Surin said that it is important that Thailand has a new foreign minister as soon as possible to get acquainted with the major issues the grouping is dealing with. He said that the reconstruction of Burma (Myanmar) and other issues.

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