No reissuance of diplomatic passport to Thaksin: FM

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BANGKOK, Aug 13 – Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Towijakchaikul on Saturday reaffirmed the foreign ministry has not considered the reissue of a diplomatic passport to fugitive ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, as reported.

The new foreign minister added he has not investigated the feasibility of returning the diplomatic passport, or “red passport,” to the former prime minister as he has yet to even started officially working at the ministry.

“I’m not prepared to return the red passport to Mr Thaksin but I will consider the case based on principles and fairness,” stated Mr Surapong. “But if anything was implemented by the previous government for strictly political motives, this government will reinstitute good and fair traditions.”

The foreign minister also revealed that the Japanese ambassador to Thailand, Seiji Kojima, met him Friday at Pheu Thai Party headquarters inquiring about the policies of the new government.

The Japanese envoy said that Japan’s private sector has invited the deposed premier to visit areas devastated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami to which he had made donations and was scheduled to give a special lecture on trade, said Mr Surapong.

Kyodo news agency earlier quoted Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano that Tokyo had received a request from Thaksin for the issuance of an entry permit, as he hoped to visit Japan on August 22-28 with the main purpose of touring northeastern areas devastated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Mr Yukio however said, “We must have thorough discussions with the Thai government on this matter.”

Japan does not allow for the entry of anyone who has been found guilty of a crime and given a jail term of more than one year, but the justice ministry can make exceptions, according to Kyodo.

“I told the Japanese diplomat that his government should consider Mr Thaksin’s request with appropriateness,” said Surapong.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, the youngest sister of the ousted ex-premier, reasserted on Saturday that her government has no policy to return the red passport to her self-exiled brother.

Ms Yingluck said a consideration to reissue the passport to Mr Thaksin should be made under the foreign ministry’s regulations and procedures, with fair treatment for everyone.

“I will not be involved in [the passport reissuance] issue because this is a matter that concerns officials and the foreign ministry,” said the premier.