The government yesterday called upon Phuket residents to ensure the Asean Summit with its six dialogue partners went off without any incident in mid-July.
Thailand was seeking to reassure Asian leaders that the regional summit to be held on the southern island would not end in chaos as an earlier meeting did in April.
The summit of leaders from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations and six dialogue partners was abruptly cancelled after anti-government protesters stormed the venue in the coastal city of Pattaya.
Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said yesterday that Phuket would be a safe destination for talks as the Democrat-led administration enjoyed stronger support in the South.
He said he was convinced Phuket residents would unite to help Thailand restore its "damaged dignity" after the Pattaya summit.
"I believe there will be no protest as the meeting will be held in Phuket, where local people, along with those in other parts of the South ... want the meeting to be a success," Suthep told reporters as he toured possible venues.
But he admitted that the Army would be drafted in to provide security for the summit in a bid to reassure Asian leaders.
"The Defence Ministry will be responsible for security matters to assure the security of leaders," he said.
Suthep said the Foreign Ministry would invite ambassadors from the 16 participating countries tomorrow to a briefing about security plans for the summit. The deputy premier said he and the defence minister would conduct the briefing.
Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, who is in charge of security affairs for the summit, insisted yesterday that he would never allow a repeat of the Pattaya fiasco.
"However, to ensure success, the government will need cooperation from all residents of Phuket," he said.
The Hilton Phuket Arcadia Resort and Spa, the resort island's largest hotel, is likely to be the summit venue, according to Methee Tanmanatrakul, who heads the association of hotel operators in the South.
Suthep, Prawit and top armed-forces commanders yesterday met with Phuket's tourism industry leaders and local government officials at the hotel.
The Asean summit with key partners China, South Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and India was due to meet on April 11 and 12 for a series of meetings in Pattaya, but before the summit could begin supporters of former premier Thaksin Shinawatra rallied in the seaside city and stormed the venue.
A state of emergency was imposed briefly by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva while foreign leaders were urgently ferried to safety by helicopter, boat and car.