Prayut to seal satellite deal in France, says source

Prayut to seal satellite deal in France, says source

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will secure the purchase of a US$215-million "non-military" observation satellite from Airbus when he visits France later this month, a diplomatic source said on Friday.

The agreement is seen as a further sign that Europe is re-engaging with the kingdom following a chill in relations after the 2014 military coup.

Gen Prayut is scheduled to meet with British Prime Minister Theresa May in London on June 20, before he heads to France for a trip that includes a stop at the Airbus plant in Toulouse on June 22.

The trip comes after the European Union agreed in December to resume official contacts with the country, ending a more than three-year suspension put in place after the coup.

Airbus is expected to announce the sale of the Theos-II satellite to Thailand when Gen Prayut meets French President Emmanuel Macron on June 25, according to a diplomatic source in Bangkok.

"The negotiation for the contract of the satellite Theos-II has succeeded," the source told AFP. "It is not a military satellite, it was developed to check on agriculture and coastal erosion."

Airbus, which also supplied the country's first Theos satellite in 2008, could not be reached for comment.

France is the second largest European exporter to Thailand behind Germany and Britain, with more than half of its exports in the "aircraft and spacecraft" sector.

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