Friday, August 17, 2007

Thailand set to join Malacca patrols

Thailand was ready to join the international marine patrol mission to ensure sealane security in the Straits of Malacca, according to Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont.

Gen. Surayud Chulanont told the visiting Singapore Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean that Thailand and Singapore have had strong and close relations formany years and that the country is prepared to be part of the joint naval patrols to secure the Straits of Malacca from international piracy.

The three littoral states – Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore – reportedly planned to invite Thailand to participate in the joint patrol in order to have more "eyes" to guard one of the busiest international shipping lanes in the world.

The Thai prime minister also hailed the realisation on the part of ASEAN members that cooperation the members states on shipping lanes security is important for all.

"The first ASEAN Defence Ministers meeting was held recently to plan the role of the member countries on regional security before the ASEAN Summit to be hosted by Singapore late this year," he said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Teo expressed Singapore's concerns regarding the deteriorating security situation in Thailand's southernmost provinces.

He discussed the ways to ease the violence in the Muslim-majority provinces including using education, and praised the success of the Thai-Singapore student exchange programme.

He said the exchange programme was a good foundation for the bilateral relations at youth level.

Mr. Teo is visiting Thailand on a three-day working visit which began Tuesday and ended Thursday.

While in Bangkok, Minister Teo also called on Defence Minister Gen. Boonrawd Somtas, and met
with other senior Thai defence officials.

The Singapore defence minister said earlier in a prepared statement that his visit underscores the close and excellent bilateral defence relationship between Singapore and Thailand.

The Singapore Armed Forces and the Royal Thai Armed Forces cooperate closely on a broad spectrum of bilateral and multilateral activities, including training exercises and professional exchanges.

Such interactions are mutually beneficial, enhancing the professionalism, mutual understanding and camaraderie between the officers and men of the two armed forces. (TNA)

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