The Nation



Envoys' trip to Government House cancelled

Foreign Ministry on Monday cancelled a trip of foreign diplomats to the Government House to observe security arrangement as some protesters already arrived.

There were some 30 representatives from the foreign embassies and international organisations attending a briefing at the Foreign Ministry about the political situation in Thailand.

Foreign Minister Surapong Tohvichakchaikul who conducted the briefing at first insisted to take the envoys to the Government House after the briefing.

However he later announced the cancellation after learning that some protesters already arrived at the Government House and police suggested that the diplomats may have problems on the way out of the compound.

Earlier former Democrat MP Ong-art Klampaiboon called for the ministry to review its invitation for foreign diplomats to visit Government House on the same day that the anti-government protest planned to lay siege to the venue,

"The foreign envoys are invited to Government House on [today], although the government is well aware the demonstrators will march and protest there. The government has to take responsibility if the envoys are trapped inside the compound during the protest," he said.

National Security Council chief Paradorn Pattanatabut said the diplomats would be briefed about how the government and police planned to handle the rally. "They will learn that we deal with the situation in peaceful ways, without arms and according to international standards," he said.

The envoys will meet at the Foreign Ministry at 7.30am before proceeding to Government House at 8am. Paradorn said he would evaluate whether they would stay in the compound until the protesters arrived or not. Thai and foreign media were also invited, he added. Reports said that diplomats of about 60 countries were invited and some 30 countries have already accepted the invitations.

A senior Asian diplomat said his embassy received the invitation via an e-mail message, which said the Centre for Administration of Peace and Order (CAPO) would make the arrangements for those who wished to observe security at Government House.

However the visit to Government House scheduled at 8am was an option, the diplomat said. The diplomats would meet and be briefed at 7.30am at the Foreign Ministry about protest activities.

"Whether the diplomats will join the visit will [be up to them] as we are worried the tour would be exploited politically. Moreover the diplomats' safety would be a major concern," he said.

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