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Friday, September 02, 2011

FM: Dems must explain 'secret talks'

Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul has demanded that former Democrat prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his deputy Suthep Thaugsuban clarify the alleged secret talks about oil and gas interests in the overlapping marine area with Cambodia during their government's tenure.

Mr Surapong said on Friday he will investigate the case openly to ensure all sides are happy and that the investigation will not yield benefits to the current administration.

"When Mr Suthep was assigned to negotiate with Cambodia, the Democrat-led government had not revoked the Thai-Cambodian memorandum of understanding [on an overlapping maritime border area]," the minister said.

The Cambodian government had no hidden agenda when revealing the alleged secret talks, he said.

Mr Surapong said he will visit Phnom Penh on Sept 14 to discuss ways to help yellow-shirt activist Veera Somkwamkid and his secretary Ratree Pipatanapaiboon, who were convicted of illegal entry and espionage and jailed in Cambodia.

The newforeign minister said he had decided to arrange his Asean tour schedule in alphabetical order and will travel to Brunei first on Sept 11.

The regional tour will encompass all the nine other member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

"I will start with Brunei as it is first alphabetically, but Indonesia will come second because it's currently chairman of Asean," he told reporters.

The alphabetical order will then resume with a trip to Cambodia, on Sept 14, and then Laos.

Mr Surapong, whose appointment last month attracted criticism because of his lack of real experience in foreign affairs, said he would visit all other Asean nations -- Malaysia, Burma, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam -- during September but gave no specific dates for each country.

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