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Thailand asks Indonesia to open its waters

The Thai Foreign Ministry has requested related government agencies to clarify the incident in which two Indonesian navy officers were allegedly killed by the crew of a Thai fishing boat, caretaker Foreign Minister Surapong Tohvichakchaikul said Wednesday.

He has asked for details of the case from the Marine Police Command and other agencies including the Royal Thai Navy and the Marine Department.

Surapong also called on Thai operators to abide by the law in fishing in international waters.

The ministry has sent a letter to the Indonesian government, expressing sympathy over the incident, he said, adding that he would telephone his Indonesian counterpart to explain the situation and coordinate on the opening of Indonesian waters.

Some 500 Thai trawlers have been kept ashore after Indonesia closed its waters in response to the March 9 fatalities.

Surapong said he was confident that the case would not affect Thailand's relationship with Indonesia.

Meanwhile Provincial Police Region 9 Deputy Commissioner Pol Maj Gen Chawalit Sawaengpuet, who heads the investigation team, said the trawler and crew involved in the incident left Thailand without going through the required immigration check.

He said the police were investigating reports that the fishing boat may have illegally used the rights of boat named Sor Nattaya 7 to enter Indonesian waters for fishing.

The nonThai crew would be charged with illegal entry, he said.

Praporn Ekuru, president of Songkhla Fishing Association, said the Fishing Association of Thailand was asked to coordinate in offering assistance to families of the two Indonesian navy personnel and to cooperate in investigating the case.


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