Representatives from over 40 countries and regions kicked off a ministerial meeting in Phuket Friday to discuss how to proceed with a regional tsunami early warning system, including the location of such a system.
The Ministerial Meeting on Regional Cooperation on Tsunami Warning Arrangements, which was opened by Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, is one in a series of international meetings designed for such a purpose.
At a large international meeting held in Kobe, Japan, which ended on Jan. 23, UN officials have promised to set up a warning system for the Indian Ocean by June next year.
Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Sihasak Phuengketkeow said Thailand put forward a proposal for a Bangkok-based arrangement at Friday's senior officials' meeting in preparation for the ministerial meeting on Saturday.
Thailand expressed the hope to build the early warning system on the existing UN-sponsored Asia Disaster Preparedness Center, which has a history of 20 years and 30 members.
Thailand's proposal came at a time when a number of countries in the region like India have expressed the readiness to build a regional tsunami warning center on their soil.
Many countries in and outside the region are in competition with each other to engage themselves in the tsunami disaster relief efforts and the establishment of a warning system.
In an apparent effort to seek a way acceptable to all, Thailand stressed the need to have a "focal point," or a regional center, for such a system, and support effort to build individual centers at country levels at the same time.
Another major issue that would be included in a final declaration at the two-day meeting will be the introduction of a trust fund for tsunami early warning system. Thailand has promised10 million US dollars to it.
The meeting's open discussion is expected to include the concept, capacity building, funding modalities and other related issue concerning the setting up of the system.
Attending the two-day meeting are ministers and envoys from the areas affected by the tsunami disaster a month ago and countries like Australia, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Russia and the United States, as well as representatives from 13 international organizations.