BANGKOK: Thailand’s prime minister welcomed on Monday the chief of the Muslim World League, who arrived in Bangkok for meetings with Thai officials and religious leaders.
MWL Secretary General Dr. Mohammad Al-Issa was received by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha upon his arrival.
Thai government spokesperson Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said that the prime minister welcomed Al-Issa’s visit, which is hoped will “lead to close cooperation between Thailand and the MWL.”
Wangboonkongchana said in a statement: “It is hoped that the secretary-general’s visit will bring a close relationship between Thailand and the Muslim world.
“The prime minister stressed that Thailand is ready to support the mission of the MWL.”
Thailand authorities said ahead of the visit that besides meeting officials, Al-Issa would also hold interfaith dialogues with religious leaders in the Southeast Asian nation, where a majority of the population follow Buddhism.
“He is scheduled to give a keynote lecture on the importance of Alliance of Civilizations at Chulalongkorn University,” the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs told reporters last week.
The MWL chief is the first high-ranking visitor from Saudi Arabia to arrive in Thailand since the restoration of ties between the two kingdoms last month.
In late January, the Thai prime minister visited Riyadh on the invitation of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in what was Thailand’s first top leadership visit to Saudi Arabia in three decades.
Dr. Sarawut Aree, director of the Muslim Studies Center at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, told Arab News that the MWL chief's visit would focus on social and cultural cooperation.
“Now with the new Thai-Saudi Arabia relations, the reception and travel are more convenient,” he said.
“The visit can be seen as an encouragement of the restoration of relationships and the connection in the people-level, which is now being more official and convenient.”