Thailand-Iran ties ‘unbelievable’

IRNA – Relations between Thailand and Iran have gone beyond what people have been thinking, said the director general of the Thai Foreign Ministry’s South Asia, Middle East and Africa Affairs Department.

Speaking to Iran Daily on the sidelines of a dinner ceremony in Bangkok attended by an Iranian media delegation, new Thai Ambassador to Iran Kallayana Vipattipumiprates and a number of the Thai Embassy’s staff in Iran, Krekpan Roekchamnong said the two countries have had close ties for more than four centuries.

“At that time, a prominent merchant from Iran travelled to Thailand, lived in the country and stayed here for quite a long time. Since then, the two sides’ friendly relations have gone from strength to strength.”

During the last few years, he said, high level visits have been exchanged between the two countries, adding, in February 2016, Thai Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak visited Iran.

“His trip was followed by a Thai delegation’s visit to Tehran. Also, Iran’s Minister of foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif was in Bangkok on an official visit which was followed by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s official visit to the country in October 2016.”

He stressed that the relations between the two countries have moved forward on many fronts.

“Last year, we set up Thailand and Iran Joint Trade Committee which will serve as a forum whereby the two sides would be able to discuss issues of common interest and those beneficial to both states in trade and commerce sectors as well as economic one.

On joint investments, he said, the two countries can cooperate in the hotel sector, adding Thailand has a great deal of experience to offer to Iran in this sector, particularly in the area of the hotel management.

Roekchamnong noted, “Thailand is one of the leading countries in terms of constructing and improving infrastructure. We would be able to assist Iran in this sector and work together with the country in terms of making joint investments in the field.

Thailand and Iran can also expand cooperation in the area of energy, he said, adding Iran sits on some of the world’s largest oil and natural gas reserves.

“Tehran and Bangkok can also work together in the fields of food as well as energy security. The two sides also have a close cooperation in food and agro sectors. We have signed two memoranda of understanding on the rice and rubber trade.”

He stressed that expanding cooperation in tourism sector is of the utmost importance.

“Thailand attaches great importance to promoting ecotourism.”

Commenting on the number of tourists between the two countries, he said, the number of Iranian and Thai visitors travelling to Tehran and Bangkok has declined from 170,000, a few years back, to around 90,000 in 2015.

“Nevertheless, the figure has bounced back, increasing 33 percent. Currently, the number of the travelers coming from Iran to Thailand stands at 113,000, which is quite a substantial number.”

In addition, there is also a linkage between the two sides in terms of connectivity issues and air transport, he said.

“Thai Airways has just begun operating direct flights from Bangkok to Tehran and vice versa; whereas, Iran’s Mahan Air has increased the number of its weekly flights to and from Bangkok to six, which is very promising.

“Also, the tourism authority of Thailand has made the arrangements to hold its so-called Amazing Thailand Roadshow in Iran and a number of Middle Eastern countries. This year, the show is scheduled to kick off on June 16 with Iran as its first destination and Qatar the second.”

On the whole, ties between the two sides have developed on a very positive trend, he said, predicting a very bright future for the ties and bilateral cooperation.

Addressing the Iranian media team in the dinner ceremony, he said I warmly welcome the media delegation coming from Iran to Thailand, hoping that its members have had a joyful and productive stay in Thailand.