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Thailand PM says Asia should make money, not trouble

NEW YORK -- Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said Wednesday that Asia's emerging economies can help the troubled global economy, but warned against allowing conflict in the seas around China from derailing development.

“The Asia Pacific region is a key engine of the global economy,” she said in New York in a talk at the Asia Society.

However, the standoff between China and several neighbors over disputed islands must be resolved, she warned.

“We will not be successful in promoting economic development and prosperity if there are tensions,” she said, adding Thailand was “determined to do what we can” to defuse the situation.

“We believe that maritime areas such as the South China Sea should be seen as an area of ... potential.”

China is in an increasingly terse dispute with Japan over ownership of islands in the East China Sea, while there are also disputes with Vietnam and other countries in the South China Sea.

Thailand's own economy took a hit after violent protests in 2010, but has settled down, Shinawatra said.

“After several years of the political unrest, Thailand is experiencing a much welcomed period of stability,” she said, noting that GDP growth of between 5.5 and 6 percent was expected in 2012.

She also highlighted the opening up of Myanmar as a positive development for the region's economy.

“We are confident that this change will benefit the people of Myanmar, as well as the economy of the whole region.”

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