Thai PM Visits Indonesia With Trade Issues Topping Agenda

Posted September 12th, 2011 at 1:00 am (UTC-5)
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Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra travels to Indonesia Monday for talks expected to focus on economic issues.

The visit is the second in a series of get-acquainted meetings for the new Thai leader, who visited Brunei on Saturday. She travels Thursday to Cambodia, where she is expected to appeal for the release of two imprisoned Thai activists, and on Friday to Laos.

Indonesian officials said they would press Ms. Yingluck for progress on a number of trade agreements that have never been implemented because of political instability in Thailand. In her meeting with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, she is also liable to discuss Indonesia's role as mediator in Thailand's border dispute with Cambodia.

That dispute, which claimed 18 lives and displaced thousands of villagers during clashes this year, is expected to dominate Ms. Yingluck's meetings in Phnom Penh. Thai officials say she will also appeal for the release of ultra nationalist activist Veera Somkwankid and his secretary, who were jailed in Cambodia for eight and six years respectively on espionage charges.

Veera is a legislator with the opposition Democrat party, which was defeated by Ms. Yingluck's Pheu Thai party in July. Winning his release would help foster reconciliation between Thailand's deeply divided factions.

Ms. Yingluck's elder brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, is also expected to ask for the release of the activists during a visit to Cambodia a day after Ms. Yingluck's. Mr. Thaksin, a former prime minister, was convicted in absentia on corruption charges by the former Thai government and lives in exile to avoid prison.

In Brunei, Ms. Yingluck met with Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, who expressed an interest in buying more jasmine rice from Thailand.