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Govt accepts US help at Don Mueang

Posted by arnon_k On November - 14 - 2011

HONOLULU : The government has agreed to accept the United States’ assistance in draining and repairing the heavily flooded Don Mueang Airport, Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said.

The US assistance was offered by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a 35-minute meeting on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Summit in Hawaii.

US ambassador to Thailand Kristie Kenney had previously spoken to Vice Foreign Minister Jullapong Nonsrichai about possible US assistance for Thailand.

Mr Surapong said he requested US help in restoring Don Mueang after talking to Pol Gen Pracha Promnok, chairman of the Flood Relief Operations Command, and the Transport Ministry.

“The US does not want to be seen as intervening in our affairs, so they asked us to specify our needs,” Mr Surapong said.

“Our stance is not to seek help from others but we are willing to receive any assistance. So the ‘Save Don Mueang project’ was agreed upon.”

The US secretary of state will announce the measure at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra during her visit to Bangkok on Wednesday.

Mr Surapong said other Apec members expressed a desire to help Thailand.

The government wanted to drain the floodwater out of Bangkok as soon as possible and to do so would need more water pumps, he said.

During the meeting, Mrs Clinton asked Mr Surapong about a Thai proposal that the US use the U-tapao military airport for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.

Former foreign minister Kasit Piromya is thought to have raised the proposal with the US. The military has remained reserved about the idea.

Mr Surapong assured his US counterpart that Thai exports of fishery products have not been affected by the flood. The assurance followed reports the US Food and Drug Administration has stepped up checks on Thai food products imported to the US.

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