Wed 21 Jul 2004
Filed under: News,Regional
Thailand has expressed its willingness to resume the talks on Burma which were suspended in April 2004. Thai Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai said on Tuesday that Bangkok is ready to host the second round of the “Bangkok Process” and wants Burma to join the forum.
“Now some countries have approached us including the UN Secretary General to consider the possibility of having the second Bangkok Process,” said Sihasak Phuangketkeow, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman, who spoke to The Irrawaddy by telephone.
The Bangkok-hosted forum started in December last year with delegates from 12 countries along with the UN special envoy to Burma, Razali Ismail. Although a second round was scheduled for April, Rangoon withdrew from the process at short notice, causing some embarrassment to the Thai
“Whether or not we will be able to organize [the forum] depends on the readiness of the Myanmar [Burmese] government to attend and we can not force the Myanmar [Burmese] government to attend,” Sihasak admitted. “But
we hope that the Myanmar [Burmese] government will see the benefits of coming.”
Meanwhile, the EU has been critical of Burma’s lack of progress in political reform, which led to a standoff regarding the planned Asia-Europe Meeting or Asem scheduled for October 8-9 in Hanoi, Vietnam. Last week the EU appointed a special envoy to sort out the problem with its Asian counterparts. The special envoy, former Netherlands foreign
minister Hans van den Broek is due to meet with the Foreign Minister of Thailand on Thursday.
Sihasak said that Thailand would maintain its position that new members of Asean be included in Asem, including Burma, as long as the EU insists on bringing its new members to the meeting.