Wednesday, February 19, 2020
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GUANGZHOU, Nov 12 — Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Friday that he and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao agreed to speed up negotiations to construct a high speed train system in Thailand.

Mr Abhisit met Mr Wen before attending the opening ceremony of the 16th Asian Games at Guangzhou which was staged in the middle of the Pearl River on Haixinsha Square.

This meeting was also the follow up after Mr Abhisit visited Beijing in June last year.

The Thai premier said during the discussion, both sides have agreed that during the past two years, the bilateral ties, trade and investment have run smoothly. Investment between two countries has incrased 50 per cent and Thai export value could possibly hit US$50,000 this year.

Both countries also agreed to draft five-year strategic economic development plan, he said.

Mr Abhisit said he has told Mr Wen that Thailand joint parliamentary meeting on Oct 26 has approved a proposed draft framework of Thailand-China negotiations to construct a high speed train system in Thailand.

The Chinese premier said the discussion should begin with the details of the routes and format of joint investment, he said.

The Thai prime minister also invited Mr Wen to visit Thailand to foster close relations between the two countries.

In this occasion, Mr Abhisit has witnessed the signing of a Letter of Intent (LOI) for promoting and distributing of Thai TV soap operas in China.

After attending opening ceremony of Asian Games, Mr Abhisit will leave for Japan to attend the 18th APEC Economic Leaders’ meeting will be held at Yokohama in Kanagawa Prefecture during Nov 13-14.

Thai court ruling stalls extradition of alleged Russian arms dealer to US

Thailand’s Criminal Court on Monday dropped a prosecutor’s request to withdraw the second round of charges on money laundering against alleged arms smuggler Viktor Bout, saying the defendant opposed the request, delaying the extradition of the wanted former Soviet air force officer to the United states.

An elusive Russian businessman dubbed “The Merchant of Death’, Mr Bout arrived at court Monday morning, wearing a bulletproof vest and under tightened security protection by Thai commandos.

Asked if he expected a fair trial in the US, Mr Bout shouted to reporters from a cell: “No! For sure no! Which fair trial are you talking about?”

The judges explained that since Thai extradition law did not stipulate about dropping legal procedures, therefore the court had to apply the Criminal Procedure Code, Article 35. Under the law, a defendant has the right to object to the charges against him being dropped, which Mr Bout decided to do to thwart any attempt to extradite him to the US.

As the court rejected the prosecutors’ request, the trial on money laundering and wire fraud will proceed. The judges, however, did not immediately set a date for the next hearing.

The Thai Court of Appeals ruled on August 20 to extradite Mr Bout, arrested and detained in Bangkok since March 2008, to the US to face charges of conspiracy to kill Americans, conspiracy to kill officials and employees of the United States government, conspiracy to acquire and use anti-aircraft missiles and conspiracy to provide material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organisation.

The ruling of the Thai Court of Appeals to extradite Mr Bout overturned a lower court ruling in August 2009 that rejected a US request that Mr Bout face trial there.

The extradition of the Merchant of Death however can’t proceed as Mr Bout faces a second case concerning money laundering and wire fraud charges which was accepted by Thailand’s Court of First Instance – at the earlier request of the US government.

The US government later requested the Thai foreign ministry that the charges be withdrawn in order to proceed with extradition. The Office of Attorney-General later agreed to seek court approval to withdraw the second charges as proposed by the US government.