Thailand prime minister in the Philippines for visit

Manila  - Thailand prime minister in the Philippines for visitThailand Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej arrived in the Philippines on Thursday for a two-day visit during which rice imports and food security were expected to top the agenda.

Samak was scheduled to meet with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo later in the day, a Philippine government statement said.

The two leaders were expected to discuss cooperation on food security, ways to improve the production and distribution of rice, and agricultural research and development, the statement added.

They will also talk about tourism, trade and investment, humanitarian assistance to cyclone-hit Myanmar and Thailand's chairmanship of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The Philippines, now the world's biggest rice importer, has contracted for 1.7 million tons of the staple to fill a 10-per-cent gap in domestic production this year.

It has so far secured import contracts with Vietnam and Japan, and is in talks with Thailand for additional supplies.

On Friday, Samak was scheduled to visit the International Rice Research Institute in Los Banos, Laguna province, just south of Manila.

Arroyo has called on ASEAN to work together to ensure adequate supply of rice and stable prices, which has tripled so far this year amid growing demand.

Aside from the Philippines and Thailand, other members of ASEAN are Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. (dpa)