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January 7, 2009

Asean Summit:
Thailand plans two-part meeting

Thai Cabinet on Tuesday ignored security threats from political activists and agreed to hold the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit from February 27 to March 1 in Bangkok as planned.

The Thai news agency quoted a senior government official as saying that the cabinet had made an initial agreement that the summit would be held during those days while dates of talks with the bloc's dialogue partners including China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand would be fixed later because some of the 16 leaders are preoccupied with their own concerns.

Veerasak Footrakul, Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs, said he would consult with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva on Wednesday on fixing the dates of talks with the dialogue partners as both Japan and Singapore will consider their budgets in early February, China is to hold parliament session in March, and Malaysia has scheduled a major meeting of the ruling party for late March to appoint a new prime minister.

He said leaders are not worried about the threatened protest by the anti-government United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), which plans to block the summit site.

Veerasak said they have confidence the Thai government could successfully organise the meeting.

He claimed that Thailand's relations with its closest neighbour, Cambodia, remains warm and Thai Foreign Affairs Minister Kasit Piromya is scheduled to visit Phnom Penh this month. Abhisit will also start visiting Asean neighbours, with Laos as the first country destination.

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