Thai PM’s Visit to Cement Cambodia Links

Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin meets with media at the Dusit Palace in Bangkok, Thailand, Sept. 5, 2023. Photo: Xinhua/Rachen Sageamsak

PHNOM PENH – Cambodian and Thai Prime Ministers will aim to work together and fill the needs of each other’s country when Thai PM Srettha Thavisin visits Cambodia on Sept. 28, analysts say.

It will be  Srettha’s first trip to an ASEAN nation since taking office.

Seun Sam, a policy analyst at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said two aspects should be considered for the visit. Srettha Thavisin and PM Hun Manet were both educated in the United States.

Srettha, who was born in 1963, holds a master's in business administration from the Claremont Graduate School whereas Hun Manet, 45, is a West Point graduate.

Sam said Hun Manet entered office on August 22, the day Srettha was elected by Thailand's two houses of parliament. Both leaders called each other shortly afterwards to congratulate each other.

“Considering this similarity and as the neighboring countries, PM Srettha Thavisin’s choice of visits to the kingdom is a good thing.,” he said,

Cambodia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said the leaders would discuss regional and global issues as well as take part in the handover of the Transit and Reception Center for Victims of Trafficking and Other Vulnerable Groups.

Lak Chansok, senior lecturer at the Institute for International Studies and Public Policy, said heads of state and government who have just been elected or appointed normally pay an official visit to other countries.

After returning from the UN General Assembly in New York, Srettha will travel to several destinations around Southeast Asia and beyond. 

“Srettha's official trip to Cambodia as the first country in SEA reflects his pragmatic approach to strengthening relations with close and distant neighbors,” Chansok said. 

“In addition, both Srettha and Hun Manet were elected prime minister on Aug. 22. PM Hun Manet was the first to congratulate Srethha on his new appointment after weeks of political deadlock in Thailand.”

He said Srettha's visit would promote ties between the countries on a number of fronts, including improving political collaboration and bolstering socioeconomic cooperation. The leaders would talk about economic and non-traditional security concerns.

Thai PBS News reported Thai Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara as saying the leaders would discuss online scams operating near the border. The Thai FM also visited the Ban Klong Leuk-Poi Pet International Point of Entry and met the Poipet deputy governor.

The Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Thai Prime Minister's first official visit to Cambodia would further strengthen the traditional friendship and promote multifaceted cooperation between the countries and prosperity in the ASEAN and international communities.

Thailand is one of Cambodia’s largest trade partners with two-way trade totalling $2.6 billion from January to August, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise.

Cambodian exports to Thailand increased by 5.4 percent, to $646 million, compared with the same period last year. Imports from Thailand dropped by 25.8 percent, to $1.9 billion.

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