BANGKOK, Thailand -- Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau arrived in Bangkok today to officially begin a seven-nation tour promoting trade between Canada and the rapidly growing economies of the Far East.
Trudeau was greeted at Bangkok's Don Muang airport with a 19-gun salute and an official welcome from Thai Prime Minister Gen. Prem Tinsulanonda and other dignitaries.
Hundreds of school children waving Thai and Canadian flags also greeted Trudeau as the prime minister, clad in a beige tropical suit, left the air terminal.
Trudeau scheduled a meeting with Canadian businessmen in Thailand today before his formal talks with Prem Wednesday morning.
During his three-day stay in Thailand -- the first official stop on his Asian tour -- Trudeau was scheduled to visit a Canadian-sponsored agricultural program. He was also scheduled for a Thursday afternoon audience with King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Trudeau left Canada Sunday and spent Monday night in Hong Kong on a private visit and rest stop before launching his Asian tour.
Besides Thailand, Trudeau will travel to the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei and Japan, where the trip will culminate Jan. 19.
Senior Canadian officials hope the 2 week trip will improve Canada's trade prospects in Southeast Asia, one of the world's most economically dynamic regions.
Two-way trade with Southeast Asian nations amounted to about $1 billion in 1981, a large portion of Canada's trade with the Pacific and Asian region.
In Thailand, in addition to trade matters, Trudeau was expected to discuss the 200,000 Indochinese refugees on the Thai-Cambodian border and Thailand's tense relations with Vietnam.
Canada has taken in 80,000 refugees from the region and sided with the non-communist Southeast Asian countries in their opposition to Vietnam's occupation of Cambodia.
Senior Canadian officials hope the prime minister's trip will raise Canada's profile in the region and underline its political commitment to Southeast Asia.
In Japan, Trudeau will meet with Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone. Officials said Nakasone will seek the Canadian leader's advice on the 1983 economic summit in Williamsburg, Va.
Trudeau will also promote Canada as a stable source of food and resources and seek an opening of Japanese markets to Canadian goods.