Thursday, 23 October 2008

Thai PM: ASEM meet to restore Thailand's international prestige

BANGKOK, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) -- Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat said Thursday Thailand will use the Asia and Europe Meeting (ASEM) leaders summit that opens in Beijing on Thursday to restore the kingdom's international luster that was diminished due to the past two years of domestic political turmoil, the Thai News Agency reported.

Somchai left Thursday for the Seventh Asia-Europe Meeting summit to be held in Beijing on Oct. 24-25.

Somchai told reporters before leaving Thailand for Beijing that The Beijing meeting would be a good opportunity to restore confidence after the country was hit by domestic political turmoil.

He said he would like to tell the countries that even though Thailand is facing problems, it could move ahead.

Somchai said he had prepared various issues to be discussed with ASEM member countries during the gathering, particularly relating to the global financial crisis.

Thailand had experienced a financial crisis in 1997 and would demonstrate in Beijing that the country has prepared measures to respond to the crisis if it affected Thailand, he said.

Somchai said that both the European Union (EU) and China proposed to have bilateral meetings with Thailand on the sidelines of the summit and he is pleased to hold the talks.

Touching on relations with Cambodia, Somchai reiterated that the bilateral talks would be the best way to end the border disputes between the two countries.

He said Cambodia is good neighbor and that both nations wanted to stay together peacefully without violence.

Somchai accepted that sometimes problems could not be avoided but it should be agreed upon in bilateral contacts, without need to bring them to the international arena, as no other country could know the details as much as Thailand and Cambodia.

Somchai said he hoped the two nations could maintain good relationship and friendship.

The meeting would be the first face-to-face talks between the two leaders since deadly armed clashes erupted last week between Thai and Cambodian soldiers at a disputed border area near the ancient Khmer Preah Vihear temple.

One Thai soldier and two Cambodian soldiers died as a result of the clash.

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