Summit debacle sets back Asian fight against global crisis

PATTAYA, April 12, 2009 (AFP) – The dramatic cancellation of an Asian summit after rampaging Thai protesters stormed the venue has set back a regional effort to tackle the global economic crisis, analysts said. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was to have hosted two days of talks with the leaders of China, Japan, South Korea and other allies in the biggest international gathering since the G20 summit in London this month.

But the 16-nation meeting was aborted Saturday when anti-government protesters broke through cordons of troops and riot police — forcing presidents, prime ministers and a monarch to be evacuated by helicopter from the rooftop.

“The opportunity to work out collective measures has been set back. It is a setback to Asia’s contribution to the global economic recovery,” former ASEAN chief Rodolfo Severino told AFP.

“I hope they can meet soon and work it out because Asia has a lot of potential to help in the global economic recovery,” said Severino, head of the Singapore-based ASEAN Studies Centre.

The meeting was to have discussed ways to further open up markets, ditch protectionist measures and flesh out the details of a 120-billion-dollar crisis fund for coun