Thailand and Saudi Arabia will sign agreements to raise the level of diplomatic and investment relations, during an upcoming visit to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which is the first visit by senior members of the royal family to the Southeast Asian country in more than three decades, according to Bloomberg.
The agreements are being held on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Bangkok, which the crown prince will attend, as a special guest, said Deputy Government Spokesperson Rashada Dhanadirick.
The agreements set out plans for strengthening diplomatic relations until 2024, including finding a “suitable site” for the construction of a Saudi embassy in Bangkok.
Rashadah stated that the two countries will also form a bilateral cooperation council and seek to encourage direct investments.
Rashadah said, on Tuesday, after the Thai cabinet approved the draft agreements, that the treaties will “strengthen relations between Thailand and Saudi Arabia, with the aim of becoming a regional ally for each other.”
Bin Salman’s visit follows Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s visit to Riyadh in January, the first by a Thai leader since they cut ties over a jewelry theft in 1989, which included a blue diamond and the subsequent killing of three Saudi diplomats.
During Prayuth’s visit, the two countries agreed to soon appoint ambassadors and work on bilateral cooperation.
For its part, Saudi Arabia has not yet confirmed the planned visit of the crown prince, according to Bloomberg.
Earlier this week, Saudi Investment Minister Khalid Al-Falih and representatives from the private sector attended an investment forum in Bangkok that included 60 Saudi companies and 150 Thai companies.
The president of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, Sanan Anjubulkul, said in a statement Monday that Saudi Arabia is interested in investing in Thailand’s healthcare sector and is studying the country as a crude oil storage hub in Southeast and East Asia.
Bloomberg reported that Siam Biwat, a Thai developer, is keen to invest in the huge project in Saudi Arabia “The Line”, which is part of the Vision 2030 project to reduce dependence on oil.
The origin of the dispute
Diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Thailand began in 1957, then broke off in 1989. Despite that, the estrangement was not complete in the last three decades, says the former advisor at the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs and an expert in international relations, Salem Al-Yami, to the Al-Hurra channel website, in Earlier this year.
The dispute between Saudi Arabia and Thailand dates back to 1989, after a worker of Thai nationality called “Krinangkari Techamong” was accused of stealing a group of precious stones and jewels, including a rare piece called the “blue diamond” from inside the palace of Prince Faisal bin Fahd, the first son of King Fahd. Bin Abdulaziz, who was sitting on the throne at the time.
The 50-carat blue diamond was among an estimated $20 million worth of gems and jewelry in the theft that devastated relations between the two countries, according to the Associated Press.
Following the theft incidents, three Saudi diplomats in Thailand were assassinated during 1990, while a Saudi businessman who was a witness to the killings of diplomats charged with following up the jewelry theft case was also killed, according to the Saudi newspaper, Al-Watan.
Relations between Riyadh and Bangkok were strained after a series of incidents that occurred between 1989 and 1990, as Saudi Arabia believed that the Thai authorities were complicit in covering up some high-ranking officers involved in sharing jewelry with the worker.
No one has been convicted of the murders of Saudi diplomats, according to the Associated Press.
The Gulf kingdom also prevented its citizens from traveling to the Southeast Asian country as a result of the severe diplomatic crisis that erupted over the theft case and was followed by the killings.