A news report suggesting that 23 Thai workers held hostage by Hamas militants in Gaza may soon be released has not been confirmed, Foreign Affairs Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara said on Friday.
Mr Panpree, also a deputy prime minister, referred to a report on a pan-Arab news website indicating that the 23 Thai nationals, believed to be held by Hamas, might be released in connection with a hostage swap deal between Israel and Hamas.
He said the report was not yet official and had not been confirmed. When Hamas militants attacked multiple locations in Israel on Oct 7, a total of 26 Thai workers were believed to have been abducted.
Regarding the official visit to Thailand by Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri, Mr Panpree said it followed his recent visit to Qatar where he met Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. During the meeting, he asked the Iranian counterpart to help coordinate with Hamas for a quick release of the Thai hostages.
Mr Panpree said that Mr Ali, while in Thailand, had discussions with several government agencies, mostly focusing on the Thai-Iranian trade cooperation.
He said the Foreign Ministry is well-prepared to receive the Thai hostages up their release. Thai officials will be present whether the release occurs through Israel or other countries like Egypt, he said.
In the event that some Thai hostages are injured during the release, Israeli authorities may keep them in the hospital until their recovery, Mr. Panpree added.
Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara and Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin listen to lawmakers questioning government policies in Parliament on Sept 11, 2023. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)
The Foreign Ministry on Friday issued a statement congratulating Israel and Hamas for reaching an agreement on a pause of fighting for humanitarian aid and the release of the hostages as requested by the United Nations (UN) Security Council.
Thailand hopes this positive trend will continue, leading to the eventual release of all hostages, including the Thai citizens, said the statement.
According to a source, about 13 Thai workers held hostage are expected to be released on Friday and another 50 more during the four-day ceasefire.
Government spokesman Chai Wacharonke said on Friday that Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has closely monitored the situation in the Middle East and ordered all relevant agencies to use all means and channels to help the Thai hostages be released safely as soon as possible.