November 7, 2005

Thai PM to visit Kenya for wildlife talks

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra
will leave for a three-day visit to Kenya on Tuesday in pursuit
of a controversial deal for African animals to stock a safari
park in his home town.

"They have plenty of animals that they want to give us in
exchange for various Thai technical assistance programs," said
a senior government official, who declined to be named.

"But they don't want big publicity on this due to fears of
strong protests from environmentalists," the official added.

He gave no details about the animals sought, but another
senior official charged with setting up the night safari in the
northern Thai city of Chiang Mai was quoted as saying up to 135
animals might be involved.

"I can't remember what they all are, but we hope that they
will give us a rare black rhino," Plodprasop Surasawadee was
quoted as saying in the Post Today newspaper on Monday.

The newspaper also reported Thailand would donate 20
million baht (279,000 pounds) for the animals.

Thaksin is due to start a three-day visit to Turkey on
Thursday for economic and trade talks.