41 Thais to return on Thursday: PM

41 Thais to return on Thursday: PM

The first group of 41 Thais who were stranded during clashes between the Myanmar military and ethnic rebel groups in the China-Myanmar border town of Laukkai will be repatriated to Thailand on Thursday at the earliest, the premier said on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin told reporters during a trip to San Francisco on Tuesday (at around 4pm local time in the US) that the Defence Ministry is planning to repatriate 41 Thais from Myanmar's Tachileik border town by Thursday or perhaps Friday at the latest.

The Third Army Area is scheduled to brief the media about the repatriation efforts on Thursday to inform the public.

Government spokesman Chai Wacharonke on Wednesday said that the Thai army has coordinated with the United Wa State Army through the Thailand-Myanmar Township Border Committee (TBC) to help evacuate the 41 stranded Thais to Myanmar's Kengtung state.

The group is part of the 164 Thais who were recently recused by the Myanmar authorities and deemed unqualified to work after it was found they had been lured to work in illegal call centres or had become victims of human trafficking networks.

Another 60 Thais are on the waiting list for local authorities to help them be taken to Laukkai before they return to Thailand.

The Myanmar army will transport the 41 Thai nationals to Tachileik border town on Thursday or Friday, Mr Chai said on Wednesday.

The TBC's Thai unit will then repatriate them back to the kingdom through the Mae Sai border district in Chiang Rai, he said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is coordinating with Myanmar and China to repatriate the remaining Thais who are stranded in Laukkai as soon as possible, Mr Chai said.

The Defence Ministry is also coordinating with state agencies to follow up on the situation and to devise an evacuation plan for Thais stranded in Laukkai.

"The premier has instructed the state agencies to provide coordination and assistance to Thais in Myanmar with the utmost effort," said Mr Chai.

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