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21/07/2009 - Thai Prime Minister opens ASEAN meeting in Phuket  21/07/2009 - Thai Prime Minister opens ASEAN meeting in Phuket

Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva arrived in Phuket yesterday, 20th July, for the 42nd ASEAN Ministerial Meeting being held at Laguna Resorts Phuket.

Mr Abhisit officially opened the 42nd AMM with an opening statement at 9.45am and Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya also addressed the delegates with a welcome statement.

Twenty six countries and one organisation are participating at this years meeting.  This consists of representatives from the ten ASEAN countries, nine dialogue partners and one organization (U.S.A., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Russia, India and the European Union) and in addition, seven countries from the Asia- Pacific region (Papua New Guinea, Mongolia, DPRK, Pakistan, Timor-Leste, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka).  The Foreign Minister of Papua New Guinea has been invited as a Special Observer to the Opening Ceremony and the Timor-Leste Foreign Minister as Special Guest of the Chair.

High on the agenda are human rights issues and the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Commission.  Highlights of the meeting include discussion on the establishment of an ASEAN Community by 2015 as stipulated in the ASEAN Charter, measures to deal with current regional and global problems, food and energy security, the environment and disaster management and prevention and control of pandemic diseases.  Discussion of these issues will help pave the way towards the 15th ASEAN Summit, which Thailand will also be hosting in October 2009 under the theme 'Acting Together to Cope with Global Challenge'.

Security has been tightened for the meeting with local residents requiring permits to enter the restricted zone around the resort and additonal police and army drafted in from across the country.  Volunteers, known as 'pineapple eyes' are also being used to report on any suspicious behaviour around the venue.  

The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is due to arrive in Phuket on Wednesday.

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