Kasit: Think of the “larger picture” when dealing with Thaksin

kasit

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya has asked Malaysia and Montenegro on the side of the 15th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Egypt to verify recent reports about former premier Thaksin Shinawatra presence in their countries and urged them to take into account their relations with Thailand in their handling of the fugitive leader.

Kasit said he was not giving any country an ultimatum but urged them to take into consideration “the larger picture” of their relations with Thailand as they decide what to do with the ousted premier if he entered their country under whatever passport he may be carrying.

“Thaksin is a fugitive of law. But it’s up to these countries to decide as to what they should do,” said Kasit, speaking to reporters from this seaside resort in Egypt.

 Kasit said Thaksin has been working to destabilised Thailand ever since he went into a self-imposed exiled and added that his phone-in to his supporters rallies constituted such activity.

Separately, Kasit held a series of bilateral meetings during the two-day summit with a number of counterparts, including Finland, North Korea, Morocco, Sudan, India, Egypt, Indonesia, and Kosovo.

Kasit, on behalf of Asean, has asked North Korea’s Kim Yong Nam, the chair of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, to send his foreign minister take part in the upcoming Asean Regional Forum ministerial meeting to present their side of the story amid a growing criticism from the world community over its nuclear weapons programme. 

Kasit, in his capacity as the current chair of Asean, reminded the reclusive state that stability in the Korean Penninsula has bearing on Southeast Asia and added that Asean countries have agreed to be “a small bridge” through which North Korea could engage the international community.

Kasit said Asean’s offer to North Korea was in the backdrop of policy shift in the US under a new administration of President Barack Obama. The US is also sending out a more reconciliatory messages to Burma, Sudan, Syria and Iran, he said.

During his bilateral meeting with counterpart from Sudan’s Foreign Minister Deng Alor Kuol, Kasit discussed the upcoming dispatching of 800 Thai troops later this year to the trouble plagued region of Dafur and added their participation in the UN peace keeping operation would help strengthen bilateral cooperation between the two countries.

Kasit said Sudan could become the springboard for Thailand’s entry into markets in the Middle East and Africa and added that the government will soon discuss with Thai banks and private sectors about investments opportunities in the country.

“We need to change our perception of Africa as a region of instabilities and conflict. There are tremendous opportunities there,” he said. 

During his meeting with Finland’s Foreign Miniser Matti Vanhanen, Thailand has sought assistant from Finland with Thailand’s effort to upgrade its telecommunication system, as well as policy recommendations for the restructuring of the state enterprise sector of this industry.

Kasit said Findland has been ranked in a number of studies to be one of the top five countries in the areas of transparency and strong ethics in public and private sectors and added that Thailand could learn a great deal from the country, especially in the area of democratisation and civic participation.

Morocco is also another country Thailand plans to strengthen ties and use as point of entry for Mediterranean and Africa. Six Memorandum of Understandings for cooperations on a wide range of issues have been drafted and waiting to be sign by the two countries, he said. Kasit met the Moroccan Secretary of State to the Moroccan’s Foreign Ministry, Latifa Akharbach.

He said Morocco also plans to give more scholarships to Muslim students from Thailand to study at its Islamic universities.

Like Thailand, Kasit said Morocco is facing a separatist movement in the country and stated that he was interested in the country’s handling of the conflict, including the role of the International Court of Justice in this dispute. However, both countries shared the idea that the conflict in their respective countries are domestic matters.

Kasit also met with his counterpart from Serbia and added that Thailand was studying the conflict there to see what could be learn from the Balkan republic. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in February 2008. The move was objected by Serbia who sought judicial review from the International Criminal Court.

Separately, during his discussion with the Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the European Union’s commissioner for external relations, Kasit said the EU is looking to come up with a Comprehensive Plan of Action (CPA) with Thailand that could pave the way for similar agreement with all other Asean members.

By Don Pathan
The Nation
Sharm el-Sheikh
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