Thursday, November 6, 2008

Thai PM to head to Vietnam for Mekong summit

Thai prime minister Somchai Wongsawat will head to Vietnam this week to attend a meeting of Mekong river nations, the government said yesterday, where he may hold talks with his Cambodian counterpart.

Relations between Cambodia and Thailand remain strained after a fire-fight erupted in a disputed border area last month. Foreign ministers from the two sides are due to meet for official negotiations later this month.

"I will go to Vietnam for a visit on the 6th and 7th when Vietnam hosts the ACMECS meeting," Somchai told reporters late Monday, referring to the Ayeyawady, Chao Phraya and Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy grouping.

"I may have a chance to see (Cambodian) Prime Minister Hun Sen, but the talks will not be official because we have already agreed on how to work together. Everything is following the process and going fine."

A statement on the Thai government website yesterday said leaders from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam would meet tomorrow and Friday in Hanoi.
Topics up for discussion include telecommunications, tourism, trade, investment, agriculture, industry and energy, the statement said.

It will be Somchai's first visit to Vietnam since taking office in September. He plans to visit the Philippines and India next week.

Thai foreign minister Sompong Amornviwat is due to head to Cambodia's tourist hub Siem Reap on November 12 for meetings with his counterpart aimed at solving their long-running territorial dispute.

Tensions began in July when Cambodia's 11th century Preah Vihear temple was awarded United Nations World Heritage status, rekindling a long-running disagreement over ownership of the surrounding land.

The ensuing military stand-off erupted into violence on October 15, with one Thai soldier and three Cambodians killed in a brief fire-fight.

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