Prayut’s Saudi Arabia trip a ‘breakthrough’ after 30 years of tense relations

Photo by PM Prayut Chan-o-cha

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha is currently in Saudi Arabia in an effort to restore Thai-Saudi economic and diplomatic relations. Experts say the trip, which is the first government trip between the two countries after 30 years, is a huge breakthrough after three decades of tense relations between the two countries.

Relations first turned cold in 1989 after the Blue Diamond Affair when a Thai cleaner working in the Saudi royal palace stole US$20 million worth of jewels from the palace. After the affair, two gunmen shot and killed three Saudi diplomats in Bangkok. There are a number of theories concerning what the assassinations were about.

Prayut’s trip was initiated by Saudi Prince Mohammad bin Salman inviting him. The trip will last a short two days, during which time he will make efforts to renew the export of Thai labourers to Saudi Arabia. Once the two country’s relations are normalised, Saudi Arabia will lift restrictions it enforced against Thailand after the Blue Diamond Affair. These restrictions included replacing the head of its diplomatic mission with a charge d’affaires, prohibiting Saudi Arabian nationals from travelling to Thailand, and prohibiting Thai workers from being employed in Saudi Arabia.

The lifting of these measures will open labour, trade, and investment between the countries. Observers told the Bangkok Post that both nations would benefit from renewed cooperation.

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SOURCES: Bangkok Post | BBC

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Tara Abhasakun

A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.

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