Thai Prime Minister to visit Saudi Arabia, sign of rapprochement between two states

As a sign of detente in relations between the two countries after a disagreement for almost thirty years, Thailand’s Prime Minister will pay a visit to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.

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Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha will pay a two-day official visit to Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom’s foreign ministry announced.

According to the statement issued by the Saudi foreign ministry on Sunday, the Thai Prime Minister will launch his visit on Tuesday. The visit will come upon the invitation of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the statement added.

“The visit comes amid consultations that led to bringing views closer on issues of common interest,” the ministry statement highlighted. Without giving further details regarding their contents, the statement noted that the Thai Premier’s visit aims to coordinate on those issues.

The visit will come as the diplomatic relations between the two countries thaw after an almost thirty-year disagreement caused by a jewelry theft. It also will be the first high-level meeting since the diplomatic row.

In 1989, Saudi Arabia severed its diplomatic relations with Thailand following that a Thai janitor working in the palace of a Saudi Prince stole jewels worth around 20 million dollars. The incident became known as the “Blue Diamond Affair.”

A considerable number of the jewels, including the rare blue diamond, have yet to be found. Three Saudi diplomats in Thailand were killed in three different murders in a single night a year after the robbery.

A month after, Mohammad al-Ruwaili, a Saudi businessperson who eyewitnessed one of the assassinations of a Saudi diplomat, vanished, and a Thai criminal court dropped a case against five people, including a senior police officer who was accused of murdering al-Ruwaili over the gems.

The jewelry heist was recorded as one of Thailand’s biggest unsolved mysteries. Some of Thailand’s high-level police officers have been understood to be in it.

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