Wed 6 Jun 2012
Filed under: Regional
Thailand’s relationship with Myanmar has not been affected by democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi’s visit, says Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul.He said the government had insisted the Myanmar opposition leader limit her activities to humanitarian assistance during her stay in Thailand.
Myanmar president Thein Sein’s decision not to attend the World Economic Forum (WEF) on East Asia in Bangkok had nothing to do with Thailand’s hosting Mrs Suu Kyi, Mr Surapong said yesterday.
He said permanent secretary for foreign affairs Sihasak Phuangketkaew had told Mrs Suu Kyi’s personal secretary that she could not take part in any political activities during her stay.
She was only allowed to address issues such as labour and refugees.
She was not allowed to meet ethnic minority leaders or hold any political talks during her visit to a refugee camp in Tak province, Mr Surapong said.
The foreign minister yesterday spoke to his Myanmar counterpart U Wunna Maung Lwin over the phone about the aftermath of the visit.
He quoted Maung Lwin as saying Thein Sein’s decision not to attend the WEF was not connected to Mrs Suu Kyi’s visit and that Myanmar understood Thailand had done its best in hosting Mrs Suu Kyi.
Relations between the countries would not be affected, Mr Surapong said.
He said Thailand had informed Myanmar of her visit ahead of Mrs Suu Kyi’s arrival, and Myanmar did not raise any objections.
He said Mrs Suu Kyi was invited to attend the WEF as Thailand’s guest. Myanmar was told about the invitation and her schedule but did not express any concerns.
The government also shared her itinerary in Bangkok with Myanmar’s energy minister, who attended the WEF and did not raise any concerns, Mr Surapong said.
During her six-day trip, Mrs Suu Kyi visited Myanmar workers in Samut Sakhon province and refugees in Tak province.
She told the workers she would do her best to ensure their rights in Thailand were upheld, and she encouraged them to return home to help develop the nation.
Mr Surapong said he is not worried by Mrs Suu Kyi’s words of encouragement to the Myanmar workers as he sees it as a good sign that the Myanmar government is keeping on the right track to bring about national reconciliation.
He also said Myanmar refugees have been given vocational training in Thailand so that they will have the necessary skills to pursue livelihoods when they return to their country.
“We won’t force the refugees to return to Myanmar if they are not willing,” Mr Surapong said.