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Friday, November 06, 2009

PM Abhisit arrives in Tokyo for 1st Mekong-Japan Summit

BANGKOK, Nov 6 (TNA) - Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva arrived in Tokyo Friday morning to attend the first Mekong-Japan Summit in the Japanese capital and to hold bilateral talks with Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.

Mr Abhisit declined to comment on his possible first encounter with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen at the summit, saying that there was no schedule to meet the Cambodia leader and the gathering was focusing in the regional issue.

The Thai prime minister and leaders of Cambodia, the Lao PDR, Myanmar, Vietnam, were scheduled to attend the luncheon hosted by the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren) and it could be the first time that Mr Abhisit and Hun Sen meet after tensions were heightened following Cambodia’s appointment of convicted former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra as personal advisor to Cambodian Premier Hun Sen and advisor on economy to his government.

Thailand protested the move by withdrawing its ambassador from Phnom Penh, saying it considered the Mr Thaksin’s appointment as interference in its internal affairs, while Cambodia later recalled its own ambassador in a reciprocal action.

After the luncheon, the leaders the Mekong sub-region countries were to have an audience with Crown Prince Naruhito and then meet the Speaker of the Japanese House of Representatives, Takahiro Yokomichi, and Japan's upper house President Satsuki Eda respectively.

The Thai prime minister was scheduled to participate in the Mekong-Japan Summit at 5.30pm local time or 7.30pm Thai time.

Mr Abhisit said earlier that Thailand will focus on three important issues—infrastructure connectivity to boost economic development in the East-West and Southern economic corridors and pave the way for ASEAN economic integration, resolution of environmental problems (Japan has played a major role in resolving climate change), and human resources development.

The Thai premier said that the summit is expected to issue an investment plan for infrastructure and environmental rehabilitation, as well as human resources development.

In addition, Mr Abhisit said a declaration on joint political will was scheduled to be signed.

The Thai premier said that after the summit ends, he will meet bilaterally with the Japanese premier and with Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada.

He said the meeting will focus on economic cooperation, especially applying the Japan-Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement (JTEPA) and Creative Economics for Economic Value Added.

The Thai premier said Thailand has met with Japanese investors both in Thailand and abroad about implementing the economic partnership agreement and will resolve the continuing problem at Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate in accord with the law, worrying investors after Thailand's Central Administrative Court ordered 76 industrial projects there to temporarily halt operations amid continued concern by local residents and NGOs about critical environmental and health impacts.

Japan earlier reaffirmed its continued commitment to help narrow the development gaps in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) through various sub-regional development activities.

Japan initiated the Mekong-Japan Cooperation framework while designating the year 2009 as the Mekong-Japan Exchange Year.
The 1st Mekong-Japan Summit in Tokyo is expected to strengthen cooperative relations between Japan and the Mekong countries, including Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. (TNA)

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