Thai PM Visits Indonesia With Trade Issues Topping Agenda

Posted September 12th, 2011 at 7:00 am (UTC-5)
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The leaders of Thailand and Indonesia have promised to boost trade and security cooperation. The promise was made Monday during a visit to Jakarta by Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

The visit is the second in a series of get-acquainted meetings for the new Thai leader, who visited Brunei Saturday. She travels Thursday to Cambodia, where she is expected to appeal for the release of two imprisoned Thai activists. She visits Laos Friday.

Ms. Yingluck said she and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono both are pleased with rapidly growing trade between their countries, and discussed other ways to expand economic cooperation.

She said the talks had been fruitful and covered regional as well as bilateral issues.

Mr. Yudhoyono said the leaders discussed Thailand’s border dispute with Cambodia, which claimed 18 lives and displaced thousands of villagers during clashes this year. Indonesia, as chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian nations, is acting as a mediator in the dispute.

He said he was pleased to hear that Thai-Cambodian relations are improving since Ms. Yingluck took office in August.

The dispute is expected to dominate Ms. Yingluck’s meetings in Phnom Penh. Thai officials say she will also appeal for the release of ultra nationalist activist Veera Somkwankid and his secretary, who were jailed in Cambodia for eight and six years respectively on espionage charges.

Veera is a legislator with the opposition Democrat party, which was defeated by Ms. Yingluck’s Pheu Thai party in July. Winning his release would help foster reconciliation between Thailand’s deeply divided factions.

Ms. Yingluck’s elder brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, is also expected to ask for the release of the activists during a visit to Cambodia a day after Ms. Yingluck’s. Mr. Thaksin, a former prime minister, was convicted in absentia on corruption charges by the former Thai government and lives in exile to avoid prison.

In Brunei, Ms. Yingluck met with Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, who expressed an interest in buying more jasmine rice from Thailand.