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Thailand postpones ASEAN summit to March
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The 14th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit will be postponed to March, former PM 's Office Ministers Sukhumpong Ngonkham said Tuesday.

Sukhumpong said the caretaker cabinet at Tuesday's weekly meeting approved the proposal by the Foreign Ministry to postpone the ASEAN Summit, originally scheduled in mid-December in Chiang Mai in Thailand's capacity of rotating chairmanship of ASEAN, to be postponed to March.

The Thai government had been forced to announce to rearrange the venue for the summit and related meetings, from Bangkok to Chiang Mai in October after political unrest escalated in the capital.

Anti-government protesters led by People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) have shut down Suvarnabhumi international airport and Don Mueang domestic airport in Bangkok, leaving some 350,000 tourists, most of them foreigners stranded in Thailand.

Thai Foreign Minister Sompong Amornvivat earlier said he would ask the cabinet at its weekly meeting Tuesday to postpone the summit to March due to political turmoil in the country.

Discussions had been rife about the possibility to postpone the ASEAN meeting or to change host country to another ASEAN member country.

The prospect of holding ASEAN meetings on time further diminishes as political chaos worsened in Thailand when the Constitutional Court on Tuesday dissolved three political parties, including the ruling People Power Party, headed by Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat, on charges of fraud during the general election held in December 2007.

Party executives of the three parties were banned from politics for five years.

It means Somchai automatically lost his premiership, and another 14 cabinet members must leave the government with him. The parliament must hold a special session to elect a new prime minister to form a new government.

A new date for the ASEAN summit has not been fixed.

(Xinhua News Agency December 2, 2008)

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