Thai Minister Eyes Visit to Upgrade Ties

Ghazanfar Ali Khan, Arab News
Publication Date: 
Mon, 2008-04-14 03:00

RIYADH, 14 April 2008 — In an effort to put an end to the era of strained relations, Thai Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama is currently awaiting the green light from Saudi officials to visit Riyadh, while Bangkok reopened an investigation into the long-unsolved killings of five Saudi nationals, including three diplomats.

Thailand has also stepped up efforts to solve a theft case in which jewelry worth $2 million was stolen by a Thai worker from the house of a member of the royal family in 1989. “The Thai Embassy has already sent a request note to the Saudi Foreign Ministry about the intention of the visit of Thai foreign minister. We are currently awaiting response from the Saudi side,” said Charn Jullamon, charge d’affaires at the Thai Embassy.

“Thailand is also seeking support to facilitate the visit of a Thai business mission to Saudi Arabia,” said Jullamon, adding that the business delegation is scheduled to arrive in Riyadh on May 2 if the businessmen are given visas by the Saudi government. “These visits are primarily intended to strengthen bilateral relations,” said the Thai diplomat.

Nabil Assiri, Saudi charge d’affaires to Thailand, recently met and discussed with Thai foreign minister issues the Saudis have with the country. The minister, in his talks with Assiri, stressed that the new Thai government would “tackle all outstanding issues seriously and deliver acceptable results.”

Saudi officials believe that some deaths of Saudi nationals were linked to the theft case.

Thai worker Kriangkrai Techamong, who was working at a palace in Riyadh, committed the theft and fled the Kingdom. Police arrested him at his home in Thailand’s Lampang province in 1990, and his evidence led to the retrieval of much of the missing jewelry. However, when the precious cargo was returned to Riyadh, it was discovered that most of the items were crude fakes.

Past Thai governments have tried to upgrade relations with Saudi Arabia, but their attempts have fallen flat so far.

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