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General News Mon, 25 Apr 2005

Thais want prisoner swap with Ghana

Thailand?s President, Dr Thaksin Shinawatra, has invited Ghana to draw up a prisoner exchange agreement between Ghana and Thailand.

This came up in Jakarta, Indonesia, when President John Agyekum Kufuor met the Thai president at the Asian-African Summit 2005 held from April 22 to 23.

?Let?s draw up an agreement to exchange prisoners,? he urged.

It was not confirmed whether there are Thai nationals in Ghana?s prisons, but it is estimated that there are at least five women and 34 male Ghanaian prisoners in Thailand?s prisons, where they have been incarcerated on various criminal charges, including dealing in narcotic drugs.

At a meeting between Japan and Ghana, Japanese prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, pledged to increase financial assistance to Ghana, from $5 million to $10 million, within the next year, to boost private sector development, in Ghana.

Koizumi expressed his satisfaction with the on-going democratic process in Ghana, and pledged further assistance to complete the Accra to Yamoranza road, which President Kufuor wants to see extended to Elubo in the Western Region. Kufuor and Koizumi also discussed ongoing reforms in the United Nations, which are of mutual benefit to the two countries.

President Kufuor also held key bilateral meetings with Chinese President Hu Jintao and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Jintao assured of Ghana?s cooperation in the rehabilitation of Ghana?s railway system, and ?to lift relations between China and Ghana, to the highest level?. He also re-affirmed his country?s commitment in the construction of sections of the Accra to Kumasi highway.

On his part, summit host, President Dr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, called for the appointment of a consular to represent Ghana?s interest in Indonesia, in order to enhance the fraternity between the two countries.

Currently, Ghana?s Embassy in Malasia, represented by Ambassador Bentum Williams, oversees Ghana?s interests in Indonesia.

It was the first time the two presidents were meeting, but Bambang reminded Kufuor of the pioneer role played by Ghana?s first president, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, in holding the Bandung conference of 1955. President Kufuor called for mutual co-operation and assistance in the fishing industry, especially with regard to aqua-culture, and commercial fish farming.

Kufuor also held exploratory talks with Philippines President Gloria Aroyo. For a first time meeting between the two presidents, Kufuor and Aroyo struck an immediate friendship, and the half-hour meeting was cordial and fruitful. They spoke at length about economic co-opration, with Aroyo wanting to know more about Ghana, and its people.

President Kufuor also held a closed-door meeting with United Nations Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Anan.

Briefing the media, Mr Kwabena Agyei Agyepong, observed that the two leaders discussed the situation in Togo, where elections were held, yesterday, Sunday, April 24, and how to manage the aftermath of the elections.

They also discussed the Ivorian situation, and agreed on earlier commitments to disarm the warring factions, and to allow all interested parties and candidates, to take part in elections scheduled to be held in October this year.

Nigeria?s President Olusegun Obasanjo met with President Kufuor to up-date him on issues concerning the African Union, while Kufuor also met South Africa?s Thabo Mbeki, who co-chaired the Asian-African Summit.

The summit ended last Saturday, with a declaration to remain committed to the principle of self-determination, as set forth in the communique of Bandung conference of 1955. It also acknowledged the New Partnership for Africa?s Development (NEPAD) as the African Union?s programme for poverty eradication, socio-economic development and growth enhancement, and accepted it as the frame-work for engagement with Africa.

The summit established a New Asian-African Strategic Partnership (NAASP) and a framework to build a bridge between Asia and Africa, covering political solidarity, economic co-operation and socio-cultural relations.

Source: DAILY GUIDE