Europe's invitation to Yingluck 'must be verified'

Europe's invitation to Yingluck 'must be verified'

Government authorities see the need to verify reports the European Parliament has invited former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra to visit Europe and share her views on the situation in Thailand, even though the offer was made privately.

Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai and deputy government spokesman Werachon Sukondhapatipak on Tuesday acknowledged awareness of media reports about the invitation issued by two members of the European Parliament.

Mr Don said there had been reports about attempts to lobby the European Parliament, although he did not elaborate. The Foreign Ministry would need to verify the reports and check the contents of the invitation letter, Mr Don said.

Maj Gen Werachon said that the reported invitation letter was seen as a private matter and the government had not taken any action because nothing had happened. The former prime minister's privacy must be respected.

If Ms Yingluck sought permission to travel abroad, the government would need to verify the letter and its source, the deputy government spokesman said.

A Pheu Thai Party source on Monday said Ms Yingluck would seek permission from the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to make a trip to Europe after the European Parliament invited her to share her views with members of the European Parliament (MEPs) in either the Belgian capital, Brussels, or in Strasbourg, in northeastern France.

The source showed a copy of the invitation letter sent by German MEPs Elmar Brok and Werner Langen to Ms Yingluck on Oct 7.  Mr Brok chairs the European Parliament's committee on foreign affairs.

Earlier today, former foreign minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul of Ms Yingluck's Pheu Thai Party urged the NCPO to allow Ms Yingluck to travel to Europe as invited, saying it would be a good opportunity for Thailand to improve its image.

In February, the junta rejected Ms Yingluck's request to be allowed to travel abroad because she was about to be arraigned in the Supreme Court's Criminal Division for Holders of Political Positions on charges arising from the massive financial loss accrued to the state by her former government's rice pledging scheme.

Wim Rungwattanajinda, an aide of Ms Yingluck, affirmed on Tuesday the letter of invitation was authentic and said it had arrived in October. Her staff had not opened it because she was often in court.

The letter had been recently opened because the European Parliament had made inquiries about scheduling her visit, Mr Wim said.

He had no idea why the MEPs who wrote the letter did not state their positions in the letter. Anyone interested in this should question the European Parliament directly, he said.

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