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No political issues discussed with Prem: PM

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said yesterday that no political matters were discussed during her meeting with Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda on Thursday.

"We talked and exchanged views about the many projects under General Prem's various foundations. There was no talk about politics. General Prem is not involved with politics," Yingluck said at Government House.

The prime minister declined to answer further questions from reporters about her meeting with Prem.

Earlier yesterday, Deputy Premier Yuthasak Sasiprapha said he thought Yingluck was likely to have discussed national reconciliation with Prem.

"They had a talk for more than half an hour and they may have talked about [reconciliation]. I really don't know," Yuthasak said.

He added that neither did he ask the prime minister about the talk nor did Yingluck tell him and the other deputy premiers while they were returning to Government House from Prem's Sisao Thewet residence during the two-minute ride.

Yuthasak accompanied Yingluck and two other deputy premiers - Yongyuth Wichaidit and Kittiratt Na-Ranong - to a meeting with Prem on Thursday to offer him their good wishes for Songkran.

On Thursday, Yingluck and her group met Prem for about 15 minutes before the three deputy premiers left the reception room, allowing Prem and Yingluck and to have a conversation for about half an hour before they rejoined the three deputy premiers outside the house.

Yuthasak did not confirm speculation that Yingluck had apologised to Prem for her brother, ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who earlier had identified the elder statesman as his arch-rival and had accused him of political interference. "I really don't know. I was outside at the time," Yuthasak said.

He said the government would seek Prem's advice on problems in running the country. "He is a respected senior figure and a pillar of the country.

The prime minister respects him in a way a young person does a senior person."

Prem served as prime minister from 1980 to 1988, during which he managed to foil two attempted coups against his government.

Yuthasak said that during their meeting with Prem, he and Kittiratt offered to revive Prem's Love Thailand sport project. Yingluck also offered government support to Prem's projects in the deep South, including one that provides scholarships to local students.

Red shirts 'satisfied'

Meanwhile, ruling Pheu Thai Party spokesman Prompong Nopparit yesterday dismissed media reports that many red-shirt supporters of Pheu Thai were unhappy about Yingluck meeting Prem.

He said most red shirts were satisfied with the development and many party supporters had informed the party about their satisfaction with "the prime minister and other government figures offering good wishes to a respected senior national figure without any political implication".

Yongyuth, a deputy premier and the interior minister, said yesterday that it was normal for some red shirts to be dissatisfied. He added that the government was confident what it had done was beneficial and that the majority agreed with it.

Opposition leader Abhisit Vejjajiva said that Pheu Thai's red-shirt supporters were confused as the ruling party had suddenly shifted its stance about Prem.

The Democrat Party leader said that the red shirts had earlier been told to hate Prem, who was accused by Pheu Thai politicians and red-shirt leaders of being behind the 2006 coup, and suddenly the ruling politicians now were cosying up to Prem.

Thida Thawornseth, leader of the red shirts movement, yesterday said the red shirts were still firm about "fighting against the 'elitocracy' to achieve a democracy in which the sovereignty really belongs to the people".

She said that her movement still adhered to its "two-leg strategy" - one leg being the Pheu Thai Party and the other the red-shirt group - with the two legs moving independently and not obstructing the other, in a bid to achieve the ultimate goal.

Thida said a number of red shirts disagreed with government figures meeting Prem.


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