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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 September, 2003, 10:03 GMT 11:03 UK
Thailand to airlift foreign beggars
A Thai homeless man eats his lunch while sitting on a road-side bench in Bangkok
Thailand wants to clear Bangkok of all its homeless and destitute
Thailand is planning to fly home hundreds of Cambodian beggars ahead of a meeting of world leaders in Bangkok next month.

The authorities are already planning to clear the capital's streets of thousands of Thai homeless and stray dogs for the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) summit.

[We will fly them] as far as possible from Thailand so they won't come back again
Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai
Now Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai has said Cambodian beggars will be rounded up and returned home next week, once the Cambodian embassy in Bangkok had verified the beggars' identities.

"In the past, when we rounded them up and sent them across the border, they just kept coming back," Mr Surakiart told reporters.

"This time we will put them on a C-130 plane, flying around 100 of them to Phnom Penh either on Monday or Tuesday, as far as possible from Thailand so they won't come back again."

He said that Thailand considered the beggars to have entered the country illegally, and that he expected that hundreds of people would be repatriated.

Officials have also been renovating government buildings ahead of the 20-21 October meeting, which will be attended by US President George W Bush.

The Thai authorities will not only be working to ensure the capital is aesthetically pleasing. They will also want to guarantee tight security.

Prime Minister Thaksin said in June that Muslim militants had been plotting to target Western interests in Bangkok to coincide with the summit.

Bangkok to round up homeless
17 Sep 03  |  Asia-Pacific
'Bomb plot' against Apec summit
14 Jun 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Thailand
24 May 03  |  Country profiles


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