Huge security operation mounted for APEC summit
BANGKOK, Oct. 3 — Thailand is going to use mice to test food for poison before it is served to President Bush and 20 other Asia Pacific leaders at a regional summit in Bangkok this month, a top health official said Friday.
DEPARTMENT OF MEDICAL SCIENCES chief Somsong Rugpao said samples of dishes served during the Oct. 20-21 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit would be injected into mice.
“We’ll have a result within a minute. If it’s safe, we’ll tell the waiters to start serving,” he said.
Somsong did not how many mice he would use, but the Bangkok Post reported on Friday at least 20,000 health workers would be on hand during the summit to ensure the leaders and their delegations remained in good health.
Earlier this week, Thailand’s chief summit organizer declared Thailand — mounting a huge security operation amid fears it poses a soft target for militants — is ready to host the 21 leaders that are due to attend the forum.
“I’m sure a good deal of their time will be taken up with talk on international terrorism,” Tej Bunnag, head of the APEC 2003 Secretariat said. “Since Los Cabos we have had attacks in Bali and Jakarta, so international terrorism has been brought to Southeast Asia and we can feel it directly,” he said.
Security has been a dominant issue at APEC forums since their 2001 gathering in Shanghai, a month after the Sept. 11 attacks, and last year’s meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico.
In the past year there have been deadly bombings in the Philippines as well as Indonesia and threats in other Southeast Asian countries, including Thailand.
Critics say the region suffers from patchy cooperation in the fight against terror, but Tej said APEC was working to improve the gathering and sharing of intelligence.
“I think the level of cooperation has been increasing in its efficiency,” he said, pointing to the August arrest of Hambali, suspected mastermind of the Bali bombings, in Thailand. “We wish to strengthen our cooperation in countering international terrorism. We have been working on this now for a good two years at every level,” he said.
Reuters, Oct. 3, 2003