Leaders from 15 other Asian countries began arriving in Thailand on Friday for a summit focusing on the global financial crisis, as anti-government protesters marched towards the venue.
Around 1,500 red-shirt clad demonstrators, who demand government to resign, were on the march several kilometres (miles) from the conference centre in the resort town of Pattaya, determined to embarrass host Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva before his Asian peers.
Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Tharit Charungvat said the summit would proceed as scheduled.
"The show goes on," he told a news conference at the Royal Cliff Beach resort in Pattaya. "Concern is there, but I would like to reiterate that nothing is beyond expectation. We have known the red shirts were coming for weeks."
The 15 heads of state planning to attend were still confirmed for the event, he said. India's Commerce Minister Kamal Nath is standing in for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is campaigning for next week's general elections.
Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen, who at one point was thinking about not coming because a border dispute with Thailand, was the first to arrive.
The red-shirted supporters of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, on foot and on motor bikes, ploughed through roadblocks in Pattaya with only token resistance from police. "This government has no right to be at this summit. It is not Thailand's representative and we cannot accept it," Nopporn Namchiangtai, a protest speaker, told Reuters. "We have nothing against this summit, but if we have to stop it we will."
Foreign ministers from the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) were already meeting on Friday to discuss how to move forward with their political and security community.
That was to be followed by a summit of ASEAN leaders plus those from some other Asian nations, who will focus on regional responses to the global financial crisis and will be briefed by the heads of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the United Nations and the Asian Development Bank.
Tharit said the meeting will follow up on some issues discussed last week's at the Group of 20 meeting in London, including tightening financial regulations.
The leaders will put the final touches on a foreign currency pool among Japan, China, South Korea and the 10 ASEAN countries aimed at shielding their currencies from speculative attacks and capital flight, Tharit said.
The leaders will also discuss trade, food and energy security and disaster management.
ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 10 Nisan 2009, 09:47