Thai Prime Minister Samak arrives in Beijing

Other News Materials 30 June 2008 13:30 (UTC +04:00)

Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej arrived in Beijing on Monday, kicking off a four-day official visit to China that is expected to focus on urban infrastructure, defence and regional transportation, reported dpa.

On his first China trip since he was appointed prime minister in January, Samak was scheduled to hold talks with President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao.

The trip comes after Samak endured a blistering censure motion last week, in which the opposition Democrat party accused him of mismanaging the economy, selling off the country and being mentally unfit to head the government.

In China, the two sides will discuss Chinese participation in the Skytrain light railway in Bangkok and cross-border road and rail links between China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand under the Greater Mekong Sub-region framework.

Samak, 73, is accompanied by the deputy prime minister for commerce, the commander-in-chief of the army and other top officials.

China's official Xinhua news agency said the Chinese government would offer help to Thailand in "advancing ammunition technology," and that the two sides would sign a contract worth about 10 billion yuan (1.43 billion dollars) for exports of Chinese machinery products.

Thailand expected to seal more agreements on exports of Thai fruit to China, the agency said.

Samak will also visit Beijing's "Bird's Nest" stadium and other sites built to host the Olympic Games in August, and will become an honorary professor at the Beijing University of Linguistic and Cultural Studies.

He will fly on Thursday to Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, completing his visits to the 10 capitals of the Association of South-EAst Asian Nations (ASEAN), since being named prime minister on January 28.

It is common etiquette for new Thai premiers to visit their South- East Asian neighbours before going farther afield.

Samak, a veteran right-wing politician, heads the People Power Party that won the most seats in general elections on December 23, 2007.

The party and Samak are known to enjoy the backing of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, a billionaire telecommunications tycoon who dominated Thai politics from 2001-06 before his premiership was terminated by a military coup on September 19, 2006.