July 08, 2014 00:00 By Nuntida Puangthong
Thai team visits the UN to boost understanding about army takeover
A DELEGATION led by Foreign Ministry’s permanent secretary Sihasak Phuangketkeow was, as of yesterday, still waiting for a meeting with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to be confirmed. They hope to update UN chief about the post-coup situation in Bangkok.
Sihasak, who is the acting foreign minister, is attending a ministerial meeting of the UN Economic and Social Council at the UN headquarters in New York, ministry spokesman Sek Wannamethee said.
A Foreign Ministry source said yesterday that Sihasak
was waiting to hear from Ban’s office if they can meet before Sihasak returns home tomorrow night.
The UN visit is part of a “roadshow” suggested last week by junta chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha for state agencies and the private sector to help people overseas get a better grasp of why the military seized power.
When Thailand’s political conflict was degenerating into crisis a few months ago, Ban offered to mediate and met with politicians from the then ruling Pheu Thai and opposition Democrat parties.
The ECOSOC session in New York, from yesterday to tomorrow, presents a good opportunity for Thailand to describe to foreign nations the conditions in the country now. Sihasak said yesterday he would try to talk with delegates from the US and some Latin American countries that had harsh words about the May 22 power seizure.
Sihasak will also hold talks with high-level representatives from ECOSOC member states.
“We have to make foreigners comprehend the context of Thai politics. We will tell them that Thailand has not abandoned democratic principles, nor respect for human rights. Instead, what happened will strengthen our democracy,” he said.
Consultations with editors of The New York Times plus officials from the Asia Society are also part of his itinerary in the US. He would also meet Thai expatriates from major cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles and New York to hear their views on reconciliation and reform. He will then report back to the ruling National Council for Peace and Order about their opinions.
The “roadshow” is taking him to many countries, like Geneva last month, where he described to participants of a UN Human Rights Council meeting the latest developments in Thailand – and stressed that the situation had improved immensely.
On Friday, he will lead a mission to China to meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and he will head to the Philippines next week.
From July 20 to 25, there is a ministerial meeting of Asean and the European Union, in Brussels, then a meeting in South Korea between Seoul and Mekong River member states at the end of this month, prior to an Asean foreign ministers’ meeting in Myanmar early next month.
Sihasak said he would try to clarify several issues with EU officials attending the EU-Asean meeting, while the Europeans should also try to understand Thailand in this regard.
Last week, the anti-coup Free Thais for Human Rights and Democracy group, led by its European coordinator Jaran Ditapichai, met with officials of the EU’s Human Rights Council in Paris.