Thailand, which was forced to cancel the ASEAN summit in April amid chaotic anti-government protests at the summit venue, has failed to reconvene the meeting in June at Phuket, the prime minister admitted on Wednesday.
"There are countries that cannot attend the meeting we proposed," Abhisit said, adding that the most likely alternative date was October, when a second ASEAN summit was already due to be held.
Abhisit said senior bureaucrats from the 16 countries would discuss new dates at their own meeting on May 19 in Phuket.
By offering Phuket as the hosting venue, which is a stronghold of Abhisit's Democrat Party, the government had hoped to "save face" and reconvene the meeting under tighter security conditions.
However, senior diplomatic sources said China, Japan, South Korea had voiced concerns over their lack of confidence in Thailand's future security arrangements for their leaders.
Thai officials declared that security concerns played no part in the failure to reconvene the meeting.
"Some countries are having by-elections, two or three countries are having general elections and others have plans to host state visits that cannot be moved," said Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, "Thailand's ability to provide security was not an issue because there were no questions about this in the correspondence with Thailand”.
The failed summit and the protests that precipitated it in April -- where leaders of ASEAN and its dialogue partners, China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand were to discuss the global financial crisis -- was hugely embarrassing for Abhisit and his administration, who had been hoping that a successful summit would signal that political stability had returned to Thailand.
Abhisit was forced to impose emergency rule in Bangkok for 12 days following the failed summit and the red-shirted pro-Thaksin United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD) popular movement declared a moral victory.
This is the 2nd postponement of the summit which should have been held in December of 2008.
AFP, Thailand fails to reconvene Asian summit: Thai PM, 13 May 2009, http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hfC8OD5pewfrQ5ecNi8RM...
Bangkok Post, Asean summit plans scrapped , 14 May 2009, http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/16623/asean-summit-plans-scrapped
Reuters, India, Thailand postpones Asia leaders summit again
, 13 May 2009, http://in.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idINIndia-39595020090513