Thai PM hails Indonesian visit as successful


BANGKOK, Sept 13 — Thai Prime Minster Yingluck Shinawatra described her visit to Indonesia as a successful trip with the two countries mutually agreeing to strengthen bilateral ties and boost trade for the benefits of their people.

Ms Yingluck on Monday had a one-day official visit to Jakarta to foster relations between the two members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The Thai first female prime minister was received an official welcoming ceremony by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono before both leaders had a full discussion on a wide range of topics, covering bilateral, regional and multilateral issues.

Indonesia, as ASEAN chair, said it wanted to see a good atmosphere between Thailand and Cambodia and expressed confidence that the relations between the two ASEAN member countries will improve, Ms Yingluck said.

“I informed the regional bloc chair that I plan to visit Cambodia and Laos,” Ms Yingluck said. The action pleased Indonesia which earlier worried over the row between the two countries as it showed that Thailand is putting effort into creating good environment among the ASEAN members, leading to the strengthened regional bloc, the Thai premier said.

Ms Yingluck said she and the Indonesian President expressed satisfaction with their economic cooperation as both are important trading partner of each other.

“…both the president and I agree that there are other ways to expand our economic cooperation and trade, especially in the areas of energy and tourism,” Ms Yingluck was quoted by Agence France Presse (AFP) as saying.

She said the two leaders believe the volume of trade between the two countries will increase, while Indonesia in addition sought more Thai investment in its halal food processing industry and wanted to import more Thai rice in response to the rising population in the world’s largest Muslim population country.

“Thailand and Indonesia are determined to contribute to regional food security. We hope to continue cooperation in the rice trade,” the Indonesian president was quoted as saying.

The Thai premier said Indonesia will assign its foreign minister to discuss with Thailand on cooperation to add value to local handicrafts, while Indonesian tourists are also confident to travel in Thailand as tourism is proved to be in better condition after the July 3 general election.

The value of trade between the two countries in 2010 reached US$13 billion and both sides agreed that there is more opportunity to expand tade and investment, particularly in the halal food industry, energy, tourism and fisheries, she said.

Ms Yingluck also praised Indonesian on its role as current chair of ASEAN, as it had successfully led the regional grouping to play an outstanding role in the regional and international arenas, to pave the way for the formal initiation of the ASEAN Community in 2015.

She said Thailand is committed to cooperate with Indonesian as ASEAN chair and is confident that the 19th ASEAN Summit in Bali, Indonesia in November will be a success.

The Thai premier thanked Indonesia as the world’s most populous Muslim country as a member of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) that has supported and helped improve international understanding toward resolving the violence in Thailand’s three southernmost provinces–Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala.

Indonesia also granted scholarships to Thai students from the three southernmost provinces.

She thanked President Yudhoyono for coordinating and supporting the process of finding a peaceful solution to the border dispute between Thailand and Cambodia. She said the Indonesian leader believed that relations between Bangkok and Phnom Penh would gradually move into positive way.

“In this regard, I express my deep appreciation to the president for his support and understanding of the Thai government’s policy in resolving the situation on the southern border provinces,” the Thai premier told the media.

Ms Yingluck began her whirlwind tours to four ASEAN countries on Saturday with travel to Brunei where she had an audience with Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah and had bilateral discussions.