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November 25, 2008

14th Asean Summit
Thailand ready for Asean summit despite protests

Thailand is ready to host a December summit of Southeast Asian nations despite ongoing anti-government demonstrations, AFP quoted officials as saying Monday.

The House and Senate were to hold a joint session to consider legislation related to the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Chiang Mai beginning on December 13.

But instead of reaching agreement on pacts likely to be signed at the meeting, House Speaker Chai Chidchob postponed the session as up to 18,000 protesters of the People's Alliance for Democracy surrounded parliament and sealed off all the entrances.

The session has been rescheduled for December 8 and 9.

"Thailand is ready to host the summit which will begin from mid Dec," Foreign Minister Tharit Charungvat said. "Every country is confident that Thailand can host the meeting."

Asean Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan - a former foreign minister - called Monday's protest an "internal affair."

Surin said Thailand could go ahead and host the Asean summit even if the papers and agreements were not adopted by parliament, but said it would not reflect well on the chair country.

He confirmed that United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon would attend meetings on the sidelines of the Asean summit on December 17 and 18.

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