Thai FM Says Pressed Iran on Hamas Hostages

This handout photo taken on October 31, 2023 and released by Thailand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on November 1 shows Thailand's Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara (L) meeting with Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in Doha. Photo by Handout / THAILAND'S MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS / AFP

Thailand’s foreign minister said Friday he had pressed his Iranian counterpart over the fate of 23 Thais taken hostage by Palestinian militant group Hamas in its attack on Israel.

Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara travelled to Qatar and Egypt this week for talks on the hostages, and met his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in Doha, urging him to use Tehran’s links with Hamas to help secure the release of Thai nationals.

Israeli authorities say 1,400 people, many of them civilians, were killed and more than 230 hostages taken in the October 7 attack launched by Hamas from the Gaza Strip.

In response, the Israeli military has pounded Gaza, where the Hamas-controlled health ministry says more than 9,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed.

“I pointed out to them that Thais working there are low-income people, and work in the agricultural sector to boost their income,” Parnpree told reporters in Bangkok on Friday.

"I talked to the Iranian foreign minister and told him the Thais’ work is unrelated to politics and conflict. I asked him to send a message to the Hamas group that they are just labourers."

About 30,000 Thais are working in Israel, mostly in the agriculture sector, according to the kingdom’s labour ministry.

Thirty-two Thai nationals have been killed and 19 wounded in the conflict, and the kingdom has evacuated more than 7,000 of its citizens on repatriation flights.

All three countries committed their full support to assisting with the negotiations, Parnpree said.

“They expressed their view that the earlier the ceasefire, the sooner the hostages can be released,” he said.

During the talks, Egypt agreed to allow Thai officials to travel to the Rafah border crossing once the Thai hostages were released.

A team of Thai Muslim negotiators last week met Hamas officials in Tehran and were given a pledge that the Thais would be released at the “right time”.

© Agence France-Presse

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