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ASEAN may meet in June

THAILAND'S Prime Minister said yesterday that he hopes a regional summit meeting will be rescheduled for June after it was canceled earlier this month when anti-government protests stormed the venue.

Abhisit Vejjajiva, speaking in his weekly radio and television address to the nation, said the rescheduling of the meeting of government leaders in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations is now being coordinated among the 15 other countries involved.

Protesters seeking Abhisit's resignation forced the cancellation of the summit on April 11 after they stormed the hotel in which meetings were being held in the seaside resort of Pattaya. Some visiting leaders were evacuated by helicopter, adding to Thailand's embarrassment.

The country's reputation was further damaged the following week as riots by protesters gripped the capital, Bangkok, in which two people were killed and 122 were injured.

The army suppressed the violence after several days and the state of emergency in the capital was lifted on Saturday.

"Every country wants to have the meeting soon so we can discuss ways to solve the global financial crisis," Abhisit said. "They want to see peace and order in our country and practical security measures."

Thai officials have said the meeting could be rescheduled for June in the Andaman Sea resort island of Phuket - an area more distant from the capital and more politically sympathetic to Abhisit.

Senior ASEAN officials are expected to discuss the rescheduling at a meeting in Manado, Indonesia, beginning on May 6.

The aborted meeting was supposed to be attended by ASEAN's 10 member countries and the leaders of its so-called dialogue partners - China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.


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