Asian leaders began arriving in Thailand on Friday for a summit focusing on the global financial crisis, as protesters broke through police lines and blocked the entrance to the conference venue.
Several thousand "red-shirt" supporters of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra pushed past four police and military checkpoints, moving aside police vans and even driving a fire truck away, before halting just outside the beach resort in Pattaya where the weekend summit was to be held.
"We have not come here to stop the summit," protest leader Arismun Tongreungrong told reporters. "We have come here because any agreement signed by (prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva) is invalid. Abhisit's government cannot make decisions on behalf of the Thai people."
Summit to go on
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."
Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaungsuban told reporters the government was trying to resolve the problem "using soft measures".
"We will try to negotiate with them to open the way for the leaders. If they refuse, we will have to find other means to open the way," he said without elaborating.
Army troops deployed
Six leaders had arrived already, landing at a nearby military airport, and six others were coming later, he said.
About 500 army troops with batons and shields had been deployed near the entrance to the resort to prevent the protesters from going in, an army commander told Reuters at the scene.
The 15 Asian leaders planning to attend were still confirmed for the event. India's Commerce Minister Kamal Nath is standing in for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is campaigning for next week's general elections.
Foreign ministers from the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) met 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 at last week's 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, 13:24