Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra will use the Asean summit and related meetings to stress the importance of regional connectivity in three areas: software, hardware and people-to-people contact, says Arthayudh Srisamoot, Thailand’s director-general for Asean.
Mr Arthayudh said an Asean+3 (China, Japan and South Korea) leaders’ statement would stress their commitment to projects promoting connectivity through existing channels, including cooperation on finance, energy and agriculture.
China, he said, would emphasise infrastructure development, while Japan would stress trade facilitation as its businesses have invested a lot in Asean but still face difficulties related to trade and investment regulations and travel. South Korea will stress sustainable development and clean energy, he said.
“We can use our expertise and central location in the region to help reduce the gaps between our Asean members and push for integration of the group,” Mr Arthayudh said of Thailand’s aims.
Asean is expected to mobilise more capital from East Asian countries to supplement the US$500 million its members have committed to infrastructure funds.
Ms Yingluck will also announce collaboration with South Korea to stage the third Asian Regional Forum (ARF) Disaster Relief Exercise in Thailand from April 30 to May 5 next year in Phetchaburi and Ratchaburi provinces.
Mr Arthayudh said Thailand would run simulated scenarios of a dam breakage, tsunami and earthquake to practise coordination among Thai agencies as well as ARF members in responding to such disasters.
Other issues to be discussed by Asean leaders include combating drugs, transnational crime, human trafficking and terrorism, as well as regional security and maritime safety.
Ms Yingluck will participate in the first Asean Global Dialogue on the role of multilateral institutions, Asean and East Asia in addressing economic and financial disorder.
Discussing the presence of the US delegation, Mr Arthayudh said Asean welcomed the enhanced engagement from Washington, especially in “soft power” diplomacy, combating transnational and cyber crime.
On the South China Sea issue, Asean hopes to start negotiations on a code of conduct with China pending the latter’s readiness after its leadership transition, he said.
Ms Yingluck will hold bilateral talks with Myanmar and India on the sidelines of the summit.
The leaders of Thailand and Myanmar will use the event to publicise their commitment to the Dawei deep-sea port project and invite others to participate, as Thailand will offer gas turbines to Myanmar for electricity generation.
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- Writer: Thanida Tansubhapol