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PM angered over Asean meet

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Hun Sen calls on Thailand and other group members to reconsider the upcoming summit, saying the host country has security issues to address

Photo by: SOVANN PHILONG

Hun Sen speaking about the relocation of the upcoming Asean summit on Thursday.

PRIME Minister Hun Sen criticised Bangkok Thursday for its planning of an upcoming Asean summit, saying the country's new government was keeping other bloc members in the dark over scheduling and should reconsider holding the meeting amid ongoing political strife.

"So, should we have the Asean meeting or not while the host country has not set a date for the meeting?" he said.

"[Each Asean country's] leader has their time [to speak]. I also have my time - I would like to reconsider," he added, speaking to reporters at the Foreign Ministry.

He added that he had "not received any formal notification" of the summit's date and location, and called on Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and other regional leaders to think twice about the meeting given its flimsy scheduling.

Other government officials also expressed concern about the timing of the meeting, which comes as anti-government protests continue to dog Thailand's new administration.

Security fears have already forced Thailand to postpone the meeting once and twice move its location.

In order for Thailand to hold the meeting, the country "has to be sure of its ability to keep their problems under control", Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said.

We're still waiting to hear whether our leaders will

participate.

Foreign Ministry Undersecretary of State Kao Kim Huorn said the summit was now confirmed for February 27 in the Thai seaside resort town of Hua Hin in order to avoid any political turmoil in the capital.

"We're still waiting to hear whether our leaders will participate in the summit," he said, adding that security remained a major concern in the wake of the demonstrations, which have seen a number of deaths.

Khieu Kanharith, however, said there were opportunities presented by the meeting, including the chance to ink free trade agreements.

Thai media has also reported that Abhisit would use the summit to discuss with Hun Sen the military standoff over their countries' shared border - a resolution of which has been stalled by Thailand's political unrest.

 
Thai PM confirms move

In the latest in a series of changes since the Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting was first postponed from December, Abhisit acknowledged on Wednesday that the venue for the summit had been moved from Bangkok to Hua Hin, partly due to possible anti-government protests.

Meetings with key regional partners China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand, which were meant to occur simultaneously with the summit, have been pushed back to April, he added.

"The first section of the summit among 10 Asean leaders would be held in Hua Hin on February 27, 28 and March 1, because security officials have advised that it will be easier for security issues," Abhisit told reporters.

His announcement came a day after the Foreign Ministry insisted that the summit would take place in Bangkok.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AFP

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