The Thai Government has canceled a summit of leaders from the
Association of South East Asian Nations - ASEAN - after anti-government
protesters blocked the meeting venue at the seaside resort of Pattaya.
The government has declared a stage of emergency over the province.
10-nation ASEAN summit was intended to include the leadership from
China, Japan, South Korea as well as Australia, New Zealand and India.
But it was abruptly canceled Saturday as protesters breached security
forces, breaking through glass doors.
The protests, which
follows three days of anti-government demonstrations in the capital
Bangkok, occurred despite increased security Saturday by the Thai
Moments before the protesters crashed into the
summit venue, government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said he was
confident the meeting would proceed despite earlier delays.
ASEAN summit was slightly delayed this morning due to certain safety
reasons in certain locations. Not in the hotel, not in the meeting
places but in the surrounding areas far away from the meeting places,"
said Panitan. "Although at the meeting places there are some
demonstrations but the authorities and the agencies in-charge are able
to put the situation under control."
The latest turmoil
creates a problem for Thailand, the current leader of the ASEAN
regional economic bloc. A similar summit was postponement last December
due to Thailand's political uncertainties. An earlier meeting of the
regional leaders occurred in February, with the latest gathering to
include key ASEAN regional dialogue partners.
cancellation also marks a major set back for the three month old
government of Mr. Abhisit which had been informing international
audiences the country had settled down after political uncertainty last
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who had been
due to attend the summit, said in a statement he regretted the
postponement of the meetings but hoped for a return to normalcy and
settlement of differences through dialogue.
Rallies last year
were led by anti-Thaksin protesters, opposing a pro-Thaksin government
elected in December 2007. The protesters had occupied government
buildings and forced the closure of major airports hitting the
country's tourism industry.
The summit had been scheduled to
discuss the region's economic concerns, trade and food security.
Regional leaders were also expected to sign an ASEAN China investment
pact and meet with Japan, South Korea and China to discuss security on
the Korean Peninsular.