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Thai-Saudi Relations

Thailand aims to normalise relations with Saudi Arabia

Foreign ministry spokesman Sek Wannamethee yesterday said Thailand hoped to normalise relations with Saudi Arabia after the Arab country recalled its head of mission last month over a controversial court verdict.

Abdulelah al-Sheaiby, the Saudi Arabian embassy's charge d'affaires, was recalled on July 18, four months after Thailand's Criminal Court found five Thai police officers not guilty of abducting and murdering a Saudi businessman who went missing in Bangkok in 1990.

Sek insisted that Thailand still hoped to normalise ties with Saudi Arabia by removing obstacles in bilateral relations. He said Thailand was serious about bringing justice to the case and public prosecutors had already filed an appeal against the ruling.

The verdict on March 31 was the latest development in the case of Mohammad al-Ruwaili, a Saudi businessman abducted and murdered in Bangkok in 1990.

Haj pilgrims quota

Sek said the ministry had invited the current Saudi Arabian diplomat to discuss reports that Riyadh had cut the Haj pilgrims quota from certain countries.

He said the quota reduction was imposed to pave the way for the renovation of mosques at Mecca.

The reduction of pilgrims had nothing to do with the development in the al-Ruwaili case.

Sek responded to al-Ruwaili's family drafting a petition to seek justice from His Majesty the King, saying the family can lodge the petition via a legal avenue.

In 1993, Saudi Arabia withdrew its ambassador to Thailand and restricted travel between the two countries following a series of scandals, starting with the massive theft of jewels from a Saudi Arabian royal palace by a Thai gardener and a spate of murders and abductions later.


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