Qatar, Egypt and Iran have pledged to help negotiate with Hamas to secure the release of the Thai hostages it is holding, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara said.
He was speaking at a press briefing after visiting Qatar and Egypt on Oct 30-Nov 2 to find ways to help Thais abducted when the Israel-Hamas war broke out on Oct 7.
He met the prime minister of Qatar as well as the foreign affairs minister of Iran -- who was also visiting Qatar -- and Egypt's foreign affairs minister.
Mr Parnpree said he discussed ways of helping the Thai hostages because they have channels to connect with leading Hamas figures.
Most Thai labourers in Israel work in the agricultural sector and send their remittances home to support their families.
"They have nothing to do with politics or this conflict. This is the message we want to get across to Hamas," Mr Parnpree said.
He said that during his visits he learned Hamas was composed of various cells so multiple channels may be required for successful negotiations to take place.
Mr Parnpree said Qatar, Iran and Egypt pledged to do their best to help and also sought Thailand's support for a ceasefire.
The prime minister of Qatar believes Thais will be among the first released, Mr Parnpree said.
He said he also asked Egypt to grant Thai officials access to the Rafah border crossing to help the hostages once they are released.
Moreover, he requested that any developments be conveyed to Thai ambassadors in the three countries as soon as possible, so that the respective embassies can prepare to repatriate the Thais.
According to the Foreign Affairs Ministry, another Thai worker has now been listed as a hostage, bringing the total to 23. The number of deaths and injuries remained at 32 and 19, respectively, as of yesterday.
Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said yesterday that 20 of the Thai workers taken hostage are safe and they are being relocated to a single location, where they will wait to be released at an appropriate time.
Mr Srettha quoted Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim as relaying this remark to him by phone.
During a media interview at Government House, Mr Srettha said Mr Anwar called him on Thursday, saying 12 Thai hostages in one group and eight in another were being moved to a single location pending their release.
However, the whereabouts of two or three other Thai hostages were not yet known and efforts were being made to locate them, he quoted Mr Anwar as saying.
Asked whether the families of the hostages can rest assured of their children's safety, Mr Srettha responded, "Yes, as I just said. But the whereabouts of the two or three others are still not known. The Malaysian prime minister has confirmed 20 are safe."
Mr Srettha said he thanked Mr Anwar for his kindness, and the Malaysian prime minister promised to keep him updated.
Mr Srettha said the chief of the Thai defence forces was also in Malaysia during the past week, seeking the release of the hostages via negotiations.
Air force officials will be ordered to put planes on standby and prepare routes in case any Thais, not only in Israel but also in other countries, wish to return home, Mr Srettha added.