Thailand’s new foreign minister to visit ASEAN countries

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BANGKOK, Aug 29 – Thailand’s new Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul will make a round of introductory visits to other members of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) organisation-in alphabetical order, according to an announcement by the ministry spokesman on Monday.

Spokesman Thani Thongpakdi disclosed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs news after its senior officials discussed the ministry’s six-month working plan in their weekly meeting.

The ministry is coordinating with ASEAN countries to set dates for the introductory visit of Thailand’s new foreign minister at their convenience, said Mr Thani, adding the trip will start in alphabetic order as Mr Surapong earlier said.

ASEAN regional bloc comprises ten countries — Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The Pheu Thai Party led by Yingluck Shinawatra won a landslide victory in July 3 election. The youngest sister of ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra then became the country’s first female prime minister.

The government pledged to restore relations with neighbouring countries as one of its priorities in its policy statement delivery to parliament last week.

The new foreign minister, a relative of ousted premier Thaksin, conceded that he is inexperienced in international affairs but asked the public to give him a chance to prove himself.

Mr Surapong, 58, earned a doctoral degree in engineering from the University of Akron, Ohio, in the United States.

He began his political career with the Democrat Party before later switching to the Thaksin Shinawatra camp.

The veteran MP previously served as chairman of the House Committee on Monetary Affairs, Finance, Banking and Financial Institutions.