In an official visit aimed at bolstering bilateral ties, a delegation of high-ranking officials from Thailand made their way to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The purpose of this visit lies in the augmentation of collaboration across various sectors, with a particular emphasis on economic and cross-border activities. The ambition of both nations is to achieve a trade value of 15 billion US dollars by 2025.
Led by Prime Minister and Finance Minister Srettha Thavisin, the Thai delegation also includes Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara, and Minister of Digital Economy and Society Prasert Jantararuangtong. They received an official welcome from Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet, marking the commencement of a bilateral meeting encompassing discussions on a range of pertinent issues.
The primary objective of this visit remains to fortify the longstanding bilateral relations between Thailand and Cambodia. Government Spokesperson Chai Watcharong disclosed that the pivotal focus of these discussions was to propel economic cooperation, aiming for the mutual benefit of both nations. This includes substantial plans to upgrade Thai-Cambodian border checkpoints, enhance rail freight connections, and facilitate tourism and cross-border travel through the issuance of temporary border passes to enhance public convenience.
During their deliberations, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin directed his attention towards Thai-Cambodian border concerns and the collective efforts to combat call center scams. This visit to Cambodia marked his inaugural official visit to an ASEAN nation since assuming office.
Foreign Affairs Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara, in an interaction with reporters, highlighted the border regions that are claimed by both Thailand and Cambodia. Specifically, concerns were raised regarding the disappearance of activist Wanchalearm Satsaksit. However, it was clarified that this matter had not been scheduled for discussion during the bilateral talks.
Wanchalearm Satsaksit, a Thai activist, had been wanted in Thailand for defying a summons from the National Council for Peace and Order following the 2014 coup. Seeking refuge in Laos, he later faced allegations of violating the Computer Crimes Act due to his operation of a critical Facebook page from Phnom Penh, which criticized the Thai government. On June 4, 2020, he was reportedly abducted by armed individuals outside his residence in the city. His sister, Sitanan, has since submitted a petition to the prime minister, urging him to follow up on her brother’s case, highlighting concerns that echo beyond borders.