CHIANG MAI : Thailand has offered to convene a meeting with Laos and China on a high-speed train project linking the three countries, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said Sunday.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, her Lao counterpart Thongsing Thammavong, fourth from left, and their respective cabinet members hold hands as they attend the 2nd Joint Cabinet Retreat in Chiang Mai yesterday. (GOVERNMENT PHOTO)
The offer, tabled in talks between the Thai and Lao cabinets yesterday, underlines Thailand's concern about a delay to the project on the Lao side.
Ms Yingluck said after meeting Lao Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong and his cabinet that Thailand had conveyed its concerns about the delay, which could lead to a setback in the regional plan to build a railroad link.
Thailand will build four high-speed train lines, one of them from Bangkok to Nong Khai province. That route will then travel through southern China to Vientiane, the Lao capital.
China has offered to build the train project in Laos but it is being delayed because of disputes about the Chinese support.
The first phase of the Nong Khai train will be laid to Nakhon Ratchasima province.
Deputy government spokesman Chalitrat Chandrubeksa said Transport Minister Chadchat Sittipunt would have a key role in arranging the meeting, which would discuss the tracks and train carriages to be used for the project.
The two governments also agreed to tackle drugs, bolster trade and investment on Roads 8 and 12 in Laos, fight human trafficking and speed up border demarcation.
The two roads in Laos are connected to Thailand via the Mekong River bridge in Nakhon Phanom province.
Thailand upgraded the Phudu crossing in Ban Khok district of Uttaradit province from a temporary checkpoint to a permanent one yesterday to coincide with the meeting of the cabinets.
The checkpoint in the northern province links Thailand with Laos' Xayabouri province.
About 100,000 tourists used the pass annually and trade was worth about 250 million baht a year when it was a temporary checkpoint open only on Fridays and Saturdays.
Uttaradit governor Chalermchai Fuengkhon predicts trade and tourism will increase now the checkpoint will be allowed to open every day.
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- Writer: Patsara Jikkham