Canada navy port call lifts ties
The Royal Canadian Navy is making a port call at Laem Chabang in the eastern province of Chon Buri to strengthen diplomatic ties with Thailand as part of its effort to deepen engagement in Asia-Pacific.
HMCS Ottawa, a Halifax-class frigate under the captaincy of Commander Alexander Barlow, docked on Sunday and will remain in port until Thursday.
"We are supporting the government of Canada in engagement in the Asia-Pacific region. We are proceeding to countries which are important for Canada to engage with, including Thailand. It is our first visit in six years," Commander Barlow said on Monday.
The frigate with a 230-strong crew specialises in anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare.
Cmdr Barlow said Thailand was the ship's fourth stop -- after Alaska, Japan and South Korea -- since departing Canada on Aug 6 for a four-and-a-half-month deployment.
The port call will include an exercise with the Royal Thai Navy, he added.
"We will call on the commander-in-chief this [Monday] afternoon. When we depart on Thursday, we will conduct a passing exercise with one of [the Thai navy's] frigates for a few hours," he said.
Mr Barlow said the programme shows Canada's commitment to peace and security in the region.
"Conducting and participating in naval exercises with our partners will strengthen our relationship," he said.
Canadian Ambassador to Thailand Donica Pottie said the port call is a demonstration of Canada and Thailand's growing military-to-military relationship.
"As for other areas, we are working closely with Thailand multilaterally. We have development funds for the grassroots and we support Thai NGOs working on women's rights and the environment.
The ambassador said she is also looking forward to growth in trade with Asean.
"Canada has indicated to all members of Asean our interest in a free trade agreement. It will open up new opportunities by removing trade barriers," she said.