Asean urges peaceful talks

All parties to the political conflict should attempt to solve it through peaceful negotiation, the nine leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) say.

Caretaker Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said the Asean leaders discussed the political situation in Thailand and agreed to support Thai democracy so it doesn't affect the Asean Community.

The political crisis was raised during the Asean-Japan Summit meeting in Tokyo on Dec 13-14.

Nine Asean leaders from Brunei, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam attended. The Asean leaders issued a statement saying they were closely following developments here.

"Political stability in Thailand is essential to achieving a peaceful, stable and prosperous Asean Community," they said. "We call on all parties concerned to resolve the situation through dialogue and consultations in a peaceful and democratic manner." The Asean leaders were joined last night by India's Ministry of External Affairs, which added its voice to calls for a peaceful and democratic solution.

Meanwhile, Mr Surapong, who is also the director of the Centre for Administration of Peace and Order, said 45 countries worldwide have now issued statements supporting Thailand's democracy and the election set for Feb 2 next year. The anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) says it wants reforms to take place before elections. Most participants at a reform forum called by the government on Sunday agreed the election should go ahead as planned. The PDRC and Democrat Party refused to attend.

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