November 26, 2008 / 12:28 PM / 11 years ago

Foreign Office worried by Thai protests

LONDON (Reuters) - The Foreign Office said on Wednesday it is concerned about the unrest in Thailand as it promised to help British tourists stranded at Bangkok’s international airport by a siege of anti-government protesters.

An information board lists cancelled flights at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi international airport November 26, 2008. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom

“I am deeply concerned about the worsening unrest in Bangkok over the last 48 hours,” said Foreign Office minister Bill Rammell.

“We urge all sides to this political dispute to resolve their differences peacefully and legally, respecting Thailand’s democratic institutions.”

Earlier the Foreign Office (FCO) said it was monitoring the situation at Suvarnabhumi Airport closely.

It said it is unclear how many British travellers are caught up in the protests which has led to international airlines cancelling flights to and from Bangkok.

Thailand is the second most popular British long-haul destination after the United States and attracts around 750,000 tourists from Britain every year.

“I sympathise with those whose travel plans have been disrupted by the closure of Bangkok’s international airport,” Rammell said.

“The consular team at our embassy is offering assistance to British nationals affected, and liaising with the airlines.”

He said travellers should monitor the advice on the FCO website and keep in touch with their airlines and tour operators.

One British tourist said he had been waiting 25 hours for a flight to London and was instead being bussed to the city of Pattaya.

“All planes have stopped,” Harry Bedford told BBC radio by telephone, adding that the airport protests had been peaceful.

“It seems to be 4-500 people quite happily chanting and quite a festival, and the Thai authorities have played it up completely like a mini-riot, which we are not seeing.”

People’s Alliance for Democracy supporters camped outside the terminal doors say their airport protest is justified as part of a campaign to remove an elected government they believe is a puppet of ousted leader Thaksin Shinawatra.

The Thai government has rejected a call by the country’s army chief to step down and call a snap election to solve the political crisis.

Reporting by Tim Castle and Michael Holden

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