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Boys outside a Phuket temple during the Vegetarian Festival

Final Word on Phuket and Asean Due Monday: PM

Wednesday, August 19, 2009
THE venue for the important Asean Plus Six summit meeting in Thailand in October has yet to be finalised, the Prime Minister says. A decision will be announced on Monday, August 24.

Speculation by various members of the government has the gathering destined for Hua Hin/Cha-Am or Phuket, or even Pattaya.

However, the latest statement from PM Abhisit Vejjajiva, which presumably overrides all previous statements, has it that the venue will be finalised next Monday.

The government Thai News Agency reports that Khun Abhisit said the involved agencies will meet on August 24 and consider the timetable and venue for the 15th Asean summit and related meetings with its dialogue partners.

Monday's meeting will set the suitable time and place for the gathering, he said.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kasit Piromya, said last week that the summit venue had been changed from Phuket to Cha-Am and Hua Hin, much closer to Bangkok, but that the summit would take place on October 23-25 as originally planned.

Mr Abhisit, however, said the exact venue of the summit is still not decided and said that concerned officials are considering several factors before making the final decision.

The PM said it might be ''inconvenient'' to hold the summit in Phuket because the nine-day Vegetarian Festival will also be underway, with daily street parades and fireworks posing unusual security issues.

Phuket's Governor, Wichai Praisa-nob, has warned that advance bookings for the Vegetarian Festival may cause a problem, as it did for a summit scheduled for Songkran, if the Government does not decide on a venue quickly.

Economic ministers in the region have agreed to begin preliminary work on free trade agreements covering the 10 Asean members and its six dialogue partners, with an October deadline for several tasks.

In joint statements released by the Asean secretariat over the weekend, the group's ministers along with those of Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand said they wanted to begin work on deals that will, in essence, combine separate trade pacts brokered with single dialogue partners.

The October summit brings together leaders of the 16 nations and follows the July gathering of foreign ministers or senior representatives from 27 nations on Phuket.

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Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa

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