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Bangkok Post
Bangkok Post

Thailand eyes closer Saudi ties in Prince’s first official visit

Saudi Arabi's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends the second edition of the summit of the Green Middle East Initiative held on the sidelines of the COP27 climate conference at Sharm el-Sheikh, in Egypt, on Monday. (Photo: Reuters)

Thailand and Saudi Arabia are set to sign agreements to elevate diplomatic and investment ties, when Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman makes the first official visit by a top Saudi royal family member to the Southeast Asian country in more than three decades.

The agreements will be signed on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Bangkok, which the crown prince, who was recently appointed Saudi Arabia’s prime minister, will attend as a special guest, according to deputy government spokeswoman Rachada Dhnadirek.

The pacts will outline plans to promote diplomatic ties until 2024, including finding an “appropriate site” to build a Saudi embassy in Bangkok. The two countries will also set up a bilateral cooperation council and seek to promote direct investments, Ms Rachada said.

The treaties will “strengthen ties between Thailand and Saudi Arabia, with an aim to become each other’s regional ally,” Rachada said on Tuesday, after Thailand’s cabinet approved drafts of the agreements. 

Prince Mohammad’s visit follows Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s trip to Riyadh in January, which marked the first by a Thai leader since ties were severed due to a jewelry heist in 1989 involving a blue diamond and subsequent murder of three Saudi diplomats. During Prayuth’s visit, the two countries agreed to appoint ambassadors soon and work on bilateral cooperation in a “historic breakthrough.” 

Saudi Arabia has yet to confirm the planned visit by the Crown Prince.

Earlier this week, Saudi minister of investment Khalid Al-Falih and representatives of the private sector attended an investment forum in Bangkok that brought together 60 Saudi and 150 Thai companies. 

Saudi Arabia is interested in investing in Thailand’s healthcare sector and is considering the country as a crude oil storage hub for Southeast and East Asia, Sanan Angubolkul, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement on Monday. 

Siam Piwat, a Thai developer, is keen to invest in Saudi Arabia’s mega project called The Line, part of its Vision 2030 project to reduce reliance on oil, according to Sanan.

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