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8 3 Dec 2009

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Singapore proposes January meet in Jakarta

Singapore voiced disappointment Tuesday with Thailand's decision to postpone its hosting of the Association of Southeast Asian summit until March amid political turmoil and suggested convening it in Jakarta as early as next month, reported Kyodo news agency.

"With the global financial crisis affecting all countries in Asean, the summit should be rescheduled to the earliest possible date, preferably in January, rather than later in March," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"Given the urgency, the alternative of convening the summit at the Asean Secretariat in Jakarta under Thai chairmanship should be considered if it is not possible to hold it in Thailand," it said.

The meeting had originally been scheduled to take place in mid-December in Bangkok, but it was decided in late October to change the venue to the northern city of Chiang Mai because of antigovernment protests in the Thai capital.

Singapore expressed disappointment with the delay.

"While Singapore understands why the summit has to be postponed, it should not be delayed more than absolutely necessary," the statement said.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono proposed Monday to hold an Asean foreign ministers' meeting at the Asean Secretariat in Jakarta if the 10-member group was unable to hold its summit this month in Thailand.

Yudhoyono also offered the resort island of Bali as the venue for a proposed meeting of Asean finance ministers.

On Tuesday, Thai cabinet rescheduled the summit to sometime next March. The move came just before the Constitutional Court dissolved three ruling parties and barred Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat from politics for five years.

The delay hit India’s plan to boost its global trade ties with a slew of free trade agreements (FTA). The India-Asean FTA, to be inked by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his counterparts on December 17 in Thailand, is now stalled as the Asean Summit has been postponed.








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