- Title: THAILAND: Terrorism and human rights high on ASEAN summit agenda
- Date: 21st July 2009
- Summary: PHUKET, THAILAND (JULY 20, 2009) (REUTERS) THAI PRIME MINISTER ABHISIT VEJJAJIVA SHAKING HANDS WITH ASEAN MINISTERS AT THE OPENING CEREMONY FLAGS OF ASEAN COUNTRIES ASEAN FOREIGN MINISTERS STANDING FOR PHOT-OP ASEAN MINISTERS WALKING DOWN STAGE ABHISIT WALKING INTO NEWS CONFERENCE ROOM ABHISIT SPEAKING AT NEWS CONFERENCE ROOM (SOUNDBITE) (English) THAI PRIME MINISTER ABHISIT VEJJAJIVA, SAYING: "I cannot speculate on the outcome of the trial and clearly the Myanmar government insists that the matter is now within the hands of the courts and we'll have to wait for the outcome of the trial and look at the legal possibilities because we obviously cannot interfere with their internal process. But we will see what options there would be and we have to wait for the outcome of the trial first." ABHISIT SPEAKING (SOUNDBITE) (English) THAI PRIME MINISTER ABHISIT VEJJAJIVA, SAYING: "It will be a first opportunity, I think since the mounting of tensions, where all the concerned parties will be around the table and we hope that we can play our part in facilitating or paving the way for more talks." MORE OF NEWS CONFERENCE VARIOUS OF ASEAN MINISTERS WALKING OUT FOR PHOTO OPPORTUNITY MYANMAR FOREIGN MINISTER U NYAN WIN SINGAPOREAN FOREIGN MINISTER GEORGE YEO (LEFT) AND THAI FOREIGN MINISTER KASIT PIROMYA (RIGHT) ASEAN MINISTERS STANDING FOR PHOTO SHOOT MORE OF MYANMAR FOREIGN MINISTER VARIOUS OF ASEAN FOREIGN MINISTERS EXTERIOR OF BEACH HOUSE WHERE ASEAN MINISTERIAL MEETING IS BEING HELD VARIOUS OF MINISTERS AT MEETING KASIT AT MEETING U NYAN WIN AT MEETING
- Embargoed: 5th August 2009 13:00
- Location: Thailand
- Country: Thailand
- Topics: International Relations
- Reuters ID: LVAHX04BH64M2TYVR0ZI68J6JXS
- Story Text: Southeast Asian foreign ministers began talks in Thailand on Monday (July 20), with counter-terrorism expected to be high on the agenda after last week's suicide bombings in the Indonesian capital Jakarta.
The ministers from the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) were also due to formally agree terms for the creation of a commission on human rights, which has already been met with skepticism by analysts and rights groups.
Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya said late on Sunday (July 19) there was a "maximum consensus" in ASEAN about the commission, which would take into account the "special circumstances" of the 10 member countries, which include military-ruled Myanmar.
Myanmar's partners in ASEAN have tried to coax reforms from the generals for the past decade but they have failed to get the junta to free political prisoners including opposition leader and democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, who is on trial on charges of breaching the conditions of her house arrest.
"I cannot speculate on the outcome of the trial and clearly the Myanmar government insists that the matter is now within the hands of the courts and we'll have to wait for the outcome of the trial and look at the legal possibilities because we obviously cannot interfere with their internal process. But we will see what options there would be and we have to wait for the outcome of the trial first," said Abhisit at the opening ceremony news conference.
ASEAN admits the trial has hurt its image, and fears its stubborn member will damage their relations with the West, but the group is far from expelling the generals.
Myanmar's relationship with North Korea will be discussed at the meeting as ASEAN members have expressed their concern on security issues.
"It will be a first opportunity, think since the mounting of tensions, where all the concerned parties will be around the table and we hope that we can play our part in facilitating or paving the way for more talks," said Abhisit.
The regional talks are also expected to focus on the issue of North Korea's missile testing, security in the South China Sea, and China's detention of mining giant Rio Tinto's employees for alleged spying.
North Korea will also send their representative, an ambassador-at-large, Pak Kun Gwang, to join the meeting although ASEAN had invited its foreign minister.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be among those attending the July 17 to 23 meetings, along with counterparts from the European Union, China, Japan, Australia, Russia, New Zealand, India, South Korea, Canada and the 10 members of ASEAN.
Thai officials have said they also expect the United States to join the ASEAN Treaty on Amity and Cooperation this week, a move that would signal Washington's renewed engagement with Southeast Asia, a region home to 570 million people and with combined economic output of $1.1 trillion (U.S. dollars).
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