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Thailand proposes Southeast Asian wildlife Interpol
BANGKOK (AFP) Oct 02, 2004
Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Saturday proposed an Interpol-style agency for Southeast Asia to tackle the region's multi-billion dollar illegal wildlife trade.

He made the announcement at the opening of a major global wildlife summit in Thailand, a nation criticised in the past for failing to crack down on smuggling and stung by claims that it was an "exotic supermarket" of wildlife products.

"I would like to declare that Thailand is prepared to take the lead in the formation of a new Southeast Asian regional law enforcement network to combat nature crimes," Thaksin told the 13th meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

"The illegal trading in wildlife, timber and other natural resources is now surpassed only in trafficking in drugs and weapons."

Thaksin said if the proposal was supported he would press for a meeting of Asian nations in 2005 to draw up an outline for the new force.

The premier said Thailand had already taken strides to crack down on illegal wildlife trading, but wanted a regional force that could potentially work with international law enforcers.

"This proposed network could at some time in the future join forces with other law enforcement networks around the world," he said.

Countries, activists and organisations are meeting in Bangkok until October 14 to discuss proposed changes to trading regulations designed to protect some of the world's rarest animals and plants.

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