PM: Foreign Ministry must work hard

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BANGKOK, 15 August 2011 – Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has stressed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must work hard to restore healthy relationship with other countries as she once again defends the capability of Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul to do the task.

Ms Yingluck stated that the society should give Mr Surapong time to prove his capability to perform. She reasoned that he was chosen to the post because of his determination to work, his past experiences in international companies and his firm foundation in international cooperation.

As for criticisms that he has no experience in foreign affairs, the prime minister believed that the task could be learned with the help of ministry officials. From now on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must restore relationship with neighbouring nations and put Thailand back as an ASEAN frontline state, she said.

Regarding the Thai-Cambodian border dispute, Ms Yingluck said it can be divided into two parts, namely territorial disputes and trade. While the territorial issue must be solved through a diplomatic channel with national interest as the top priority, border trade must still be promoted further.

The prime minister however refused to answer if her government will continue the foreign policy adopted during the administration of her brother ex-Prime Minister Police Lieutenant Colonel Thaksin Shinawatra. She state that the issue should be studied and discussed in detail again.

As for a news report that Interpol has withdrawn the arrest warrant for her brother probably because the Pheu Thai Party is now controlling the government, Ms Yingluck responded that Interpol only sought information from Thailand, and she has no policy to intervene in the issue.

The prime minister also told the press that US President Barack Obama made a phone call to congratulate her upon the appointment and voiced his appreciation to see Thailand move toward a more constructive democracy. The president was quoted as saying that the situation is a good start for Thailand to revive good relationship with ASEAN neighbours.