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 11 Apr 2009

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Thai protesters force Asean+3 meet to call off

The foreign ministers of China, Japan and South Korea cancelled a meeting at an Asian summit here Saturday after Thai anti-government protesters blockaded their hotel, officials said.

Hundreds of demonstrators calling for the resignation of Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva prevented the Japanese minister's car from entering the venue in the beach resort of Pattaya, AFP reporters said.

The meeting, which was set to discuss North Korea's recent rocket launch and economic issues, was called off after the ministers had waited for an hour, officials from the Chinese and Japanese delegations said.

"The meeting has been cancelled," a senior Chinese official told AFP.

It was the first time that the red-shirted supporters of fugitive former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra had managed to disrupt the summit programme since they descended on Pattaya a day earlier.

About 2,000 demonstrators Friday laid siege to the main venue of the meeting of 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) leaders plus their counterparts from China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.

They had dispersed overnight but returned early Saturday to block the road outside the meeting of the three east Asian nations with taxis and at least two large trucks, witnesses said.







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