BANGKOK: Thailand will be seeking to revive security ties with Saudi Arabia, a top official said on Friday, as the Thai foreign minister is scheduled to visit Riyadh next week.
Bilateral ties stalled in the 1980s and were renewed in late January, following Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s visit to Riyadh, which was the first top leadership meeting between the two countries in over three decades.
The two governments have since signed cooperation agreements to promote trade, investment, and labor recruitment, but defense ties have not been discussed yet.
Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai, who is also Thailand’s deputy prime minister, is scheduled to visit Saudi Arabia on May 15-18. His delegation will include representatives from government agencies and the private sector.
“There has been an ongoing attempt for a cooperation on security areas as organizations involving security matters of the two countries have not had a chance to meet in more than 30 years,” Darm Boontham, director-general of the Department of South Asia, Middle East, and African Affairs of the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told Arab News.
“We might be able to see the first step,” he added, referring to the foreign minister's visit. “There have been discussions and drafting on the framework on security cooperation, one important area is military cooperation and exchanging intelligence.”
In a press conference on Thursday evening, Boontham said Thai officials would discuss a planned visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Bangkok, which Thailand hopes will be in the coming months.
Pramudwinai is expected to meet his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan and the investment, tourism, and energy ministers.
Since the restoration of diplomatic ties, the two countries have already restarted people-to-people exchanges.
Saudia, the flag carrier of Saudi Arabia, resumed commercial flights between Riyadh and Bangkok in late February. Thai Airways has announced it will start flying from Bangkok to Jeddah in July.