VIETNAM is to hold private talks with fellow members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at an international summit in Bangkok next month in a bid to clear the region's detention camps of 39,000 Vietnamese boat people. ASEAN members are expected to use the 'preparatory' meeting to ask Hanoi to take immediate steps to fulfil the repatriation programme. The Sunday Morning Post understands Vietnam, ASEAN and the United States will use the first day of the meeting, on December 14, to hold official and unofficial discussions to resolve the impasse. A full meeting of representatives of the Steering Committee on Indo-Chinese boat people and refugees is set for the following day. The steps decided at that meeting will be formally ratified in Geneva, probably in January. Voluntary repatriation has ground to a halt this year following moves by Republicans in the US House of Representatives to launch a mass resettlement campaign. The US proposal, modified since being introduced in March, is now known as Track Two - a plan that provides for boat people to return to Vietnam where they would be re-screened by US officials. If the returnees met the screening requirements, they would then be eligible for resettlement in the US. However, Hanoi has been reluctant to agree to a mass re-screening and several weeks ago talks between Vietnam and the US failed to make any major progress. The Bangkok preparatory meeting is seen by many governments in the region as a final forum to address the issue. It will also be an opportunity to pressure Vietnam to do whatever is necessary to kick-start repatriation. One diplomat said: 'The first day will see lots of people talking in corners, corridors, you name it. 'Vietnam and the ASEAN countries are the two key groups that will hammer things out on the first day on what will essentially be a bilateral basis. 'The next step would then be for the US to be participating on the side . . . working in harmony with what Vietnam and the other ASEAN members are up to,' he added. Other observers in the region believe the talks will be Vietnam's first real opportunity as a newly-installed member of ASEAN to show its willingness to co-operate with other members of the 'club'. ASEAN members Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines all continue to hold boat people. Hong Kong Government Refugees Co-ordinator Brian Bresnihan will represent the territory at the meeting.