Hamas 'may free 23 Thais'

Hamas 'may free 23 Thais'

Qatar-mediated war truce a separate deal

Hopes are climbing for the release of Thai hostages as reports have emerged of an agreement brokered by Iran, suggesting that Hamas might free 23 Thai workers detained in the Israel-Hamas war.

However, the Foreign Affairs Ministry has not yet confirmed the authenticity of the reports.

London-based pan-Arab news site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, quoted by The Times of Israel, said Tehran gave Bangkok details about the condition of the hostages kidnapped in the Oct 7 attacks, saying that 23 Thai hostages may be released on the sidelines of a swap taking place between Israel and the terror group.

According to an unnamed Egyptian source quoted on the news site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed on Thursday, Hamas is set to release 23 Thai hostages following Iranian mediation between the Palestinian group and Bangkok.

The Thai government has held separate negotiations with several governments including Iran and Qatar to help with the release of a total of 26 Thai farm workers.

That deal is separate from the Qatar-mediated temporary truce between Israel and Hamas that was set to take effect yesterday.

Hamas was set to release 13 women and children on Friday  in exchange for Palestinians held in Israeli prisons, part of a deal that will halt the intense fighting for several days and is expected to see 50 hostages and 150 Palestinian prisoners released.

The ministry has recognised this latest achievement as an important breakthrough after weeks of negotiations.

It also welcomed the humanitarian pause, as called for by the United Nations Security Council, to ensure support reaches those in need.

Thailand hopes this momentum can be maintained so the remaining hostages, including Thai nationals, will be released at the earliest opportunity, the ministry said.

It also commended the efforts of the governments of Qatar, Israel, the United States, Egypt, and the International Committee of the Red Cross, as well as all of those involved in securing this latest release of hostages.

However, Foreign Affairs Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara said on Friday there had been no official confirmation the 23 Thai hostages would be set free.

Bangkok is coordinating with other foreign governments to ensure the immediate release of Thais, he said, adding the Qatari government will also hold a meeting to discuss efforts to secure their release.

"We are in the process of coordinating with everyone involved, especially the governments we have contacted. We have been informed there might be good news soon," he said.

Mr Parnpree went on to say the ministry remains committed to facilitating the repatriation of Thai citizens.

When the Thai hostages are released, they are expected to be taken to a safe location, such as near a border crossing in Egypt, where they will be handed over to officials from Thai embassies, he said.

In the event that some Thai hostages are injured during the release, Israeli authorities may keep them in a local hospital until they have recovered, Mr Parnpree added.

Government spokesman Chai Wacharonke said on Friday that Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has been following the situation regarding the Thai hostages and has instructed relevant agencies to explore every avenue to ensure they are freed as quickly as possible and can return home safely.

Regarding the official visit to Thailand by Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani, Mr Parnpree said it followed his own recent visit to Qatar where he met Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

During the meeting, he said he asked his Iranian counterpart to help coordinate with Hamas for the quick release of the Thai hostages.

Mr Parnpree said that Mr Ali, while in Thailand, had discussions with several government agencies, mostly focusing on Thai-Iranian trade cooperation.

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