Bangkok readies for Asean Summit —


Bangkok readies for Asean Summit

Thailand is preparing to welcome the leaders of 10 Asean nations and their dialogue partners, including US President Donald Trump — if he decides to come to the Asean Summit himself.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in and Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, are among the leaders who will join the three-day summit starting on Nov 2, says Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai.

But it is still uncertain whether President Trump will come in person for talks with other leaders, or send in a representative on his behalf. In the US, President Trump is dealing with battles on a variety of fronts, including impeachment hearings.

“We have yet to receive confirmation from the US,” Mr Don said.

So far, leaders and high-ranking officials from 18 countries have confirmed they will join the summit, which is set to be held at IMPACT Exhibition and Convention Centre in Nonthaburi, northwest of Bangkok.

As the current Asean chair, Thailand is looking forward to meeting its counterparts to talk on a range of issues and strengthen diplomatic ties, said the foreign minister.

When asked to respond on the recent complaint made by the Chinese embassy in Thailand which slammed an unnamed Thai politician for meeting pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong in Hong Kong, Mr Don said, “We have a very good relationship with China.”

The embassy’s statement, which was posted on Facebook last Friday, blasted an unnamed Thai politician for “contacting the [protest] group calling for Hong Kong’s independence from China, showing a sign of support for the group” — which is believed to refer to Future Forward Party leader, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit.

In response, Mr Thanathorn denied the allegation, saying he merely had his picture taken with Mr Wong after his speech at a forum in Hong Kong.

On Tuesday, Mr Don said the government has clarified its stance by reaffirming that Bangkok respects China’s principle of “one country, two systems” and will not interfere with what China considers to be its internal affairs.

Thailand then received a reply from Chinese authorities who “thanked us” for understanding the situation in Hong Kong, Mr Don said, before adding he hopes the protest will end on a good note.

He also said that he is looking forward to talks and reaching agreements with leaders during the summit.

Meanwhile, the police have assured the summit and its related meetings will go smoothly, although he said that it is “normal” for activist to air out their views and make demands at such a high-level gathering.

“We’re now 70% ready for the conference,” deputy national police chief Suwat Chaengyotsuk said this week, adding officers have been participating in security drills to ensure order during the summit.

Pol Gen Suwat said that up to 10,000 police officers from cities and other areas upcountry will be deployed to secure the summit.

Meanwhile, deputy government spokeswoman Rachada Dhnadirek said that on the sidelines of the summit, the government is planning to hold talks with its Malaysian and Indonesian counterparts on an economic cooperation called Indonesia-Malaysia-Thai Growth Triangle (IMT-GT).

The scheme is aimed to regulate and synchronise rules on agriculture, tourism and other products among the three countries, which share many similarities in terms of geography and demographic make-up.

Like neighbouring Malaysia and Indonesia, Thailand’s southernmost provinces are home to several thousand Muslims.

ASEAN, Politics

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