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Thailand Evacuates Leaders from Asian Summit After Protests


Thailand evacuated leaders from an Asian summit Saturday after anti-government protesters stormed the venue in Pattaya.

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has now lifted a state of emergency in the seaside resort after helicopters airlifted Asian leaders from the city.

Hundreds of red-shirted demonstrators, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Abhisit, breached police lines and broke through glass doors to enter the hotel where the ASEAN summit was to take place.

Mr. Abhisit called the protesters "enemies" of Thailand.

The protesters, who support former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, consider the current government illegitimate and want new elections.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who had been scheduled to attend the meeting, said in a statement he regretted the postponement of the summit but hoped for a return to normalcy through dialogue.

The annual summit was to bring together leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations with the leaders of Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's plane was two hours from landing at Pattaya when he received word of the protests. His plane was diverted to an undisclosed location for refueling and then returned to Canberra.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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