ASEAN-China meeting postponed amid protests (Lead)

April 11th, 2009 - 1:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Pattaya (Thailand), April 11 (Xinhua) A meeting between China and the Association of South-east Asian Nations (ASEAN) on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit was postponed as anti-government and pro-government protesters clashed at the summit venue here, acting government spokesman Panithan Watanayagorn said.
“We don’t want the incident to happen. But there are a lot of protesters, and we are concerned about the safety of the leaders and the delegates. We are working hard to make sure everyone is safe,” said Panitan. The meeting was scheduled at 9 a.m. in this seaside resort city of Pattaya.

The spokesman however said the leaders have confirmed their commitment to the meetings and wished that the Thai government would resolve the situation, expressing hope that the meeting could be resumed as soon as possible.

Tharit Charungvat, a senior official of the Thai foreign ministry, told reporters that the delegates were safe. “I can assure you that the delegates are not the target. The protestors just want to humiliate the Thai government” said Tharit.

Panithan said that there were clashes among protesters far from the hotels where the delegates have checked in.

The so-called Red Shirt protesters loyal to fugitive former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra have blocked main roads in the resort city and have clashed with pro-government protesters.

Several people were hurt in the clashes and the injured were sent to hospitals for treatment, Panithan said, adding that an investigation was under way.

The anti-government protesters had also blockaded a hotel where Chinese and South Korean delegates are staying, forcing the cancellation of a breakfast meeting between foreign ministers of China, Japan and South Korea, officials said.

However, Wang Ya, the spokesman of Chinese embassy in Thailand, told Xinhua that foreign ministers from China and South Korea had a brief talk since the two delegations were staying in the same hotel.

The Chinese delegation said that so far the Thai government has not announced a decision to cancel the ASEAN-China meeting. The Thai government said it is considering the use of boats or helicopters to take all delegations to the Royal Cliff Beach Hotel, the venue of the summit.

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