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Joint Cabinet session with Vietnam this month

Thailand and Vietnam will have a second joint Cabinet meeting late this month in Hanoi, where officials will hold talks on economic cooperation, notably the rice trade, as well as security and cultural issues, a government source said yesterday.



Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra will lead some, not all, of her ministers to the meeting on October 27. Key attendees will include Deputy Prime Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong, Deputy Prime Minister Yuthasak Sasiprapha, Foreign Minister Surapong Towichukchaikul and Defence Minister Sukampol Suwannathat.

It will be the second joint Cabinet session between the two countries. The first was in 2004 under the government of Thaksin Shinawatra. An agreement to resume the joint meetings was reached when Yingluck visited Vietnam last November.

The half-day meeting will be divided into several sessions, beginning with "clusters" attended only by concerned ministers for their specific portfolios. Yingluck and her Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Tan Dung will then have a "four eyes" meeting before a panel discussion of all the delegates from both sides.

Topics of discussion will concentrate on economic cooperation, security, education and culture, according to a government official.

Economic matters will be highlighted, notably on the rice trade. Thailand and Vietnam are the top producers in the world rice market.

Thailand held the position of the world's top rice exporter for years, but may be overtaken by Vietnam.

The joint meeting will explore possibilities for technical cooperation on rice production, the official said while declining to disclose further details.

Yingluck's government is under heavy criticism for mismanagement under its rice-pledging scheme, which has caused exports to weaken while Vietnam's performance in the rice market has been quite strong.

On security matters, the two countries will seek cooperation on countering human trafficking. Cultural and educational issues will be focused on language as Thai officials seek Vietnamese-language teaching in Thailand.


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