Prayut invites Macron to 2019 summit

Prayut invites Macron to 2019 summit

French President Emmanuel Macron provided a warm welcome to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha at the Elysee Palace in Paris on Sunday. (EPA photo)
French President Emmanuel Macron provided a warm welcome to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha at the Elysee Palace in Paris on Sunday. (EPA photo)

Thailand has invited French President Emmanuel Macron to attend the East Asia Summit next year in its capacity as Asean chair, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said Tuesday.

The kingdom also hopes Paris will persuade the European Union to resume free-trade talks, Gen Prayut told the Thai News Agency (TNA) after bilateral talks with France.

The East Asia Summit is held annually after the Asean leaders' meetings. This year, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has reportedly invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to attend the summit due to be held in the city-state in November.

Mr Prayut said he was impressed by the 40-year-old Mr Macron. Calling him a "new generation leader who is bringing change to France", Gen Prayut said both countries share similar views on counter-terrorism, climate change, education policy, industrial reform and regional security.

"We are both committed to bilateral cooperation. Despite Thailand having its own political problems to overcome, bilateral cooperation in the private sector will continue as usual," Gen Prayut said.

"I told President Macron that Thailand will abide by its election roadmap," he said.

The premier said many Thai companies are investing in France and the regime will urge more to follow suit. He added that he has invited French companies to invest in the high-speed train project linking three airports under the Eastern Economic Corridor.

Gen Prayut said he did not visit France to purchase anything, as claimed by the media. He said the Theos II satellite purchase agreement between Thailand's Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA) and France-Airbus Defence had first been discussed over two years ago.

Meanwhile, an agreement between Thai Airways International and Airbus only concerns the development of an aircraft maintenance depot in the U-Tapao airport area in Rayong.

Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said Gen Prayut received a warm response from both the UK and France during his June 22-26 trip to Europe. He is due to visit Sri Lanka and Bhutan next month.

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