Freeing hostages top priority, says PM

Freeing hostages top priority, says PM

Thai workers released by Hamas arrive at Suvarnabhumi airport on Nov 30. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)
Thai workers released by Hamas arrive at Suvarnabhumi airport on Nov 30. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has reassured the public the government will continue to help all remaining Thai hostages captured by the Palestinian militant group Hamas in its surprise attack on Israel on Oct 7.

Mr Srettha told reporters on Tuesday there is no good news to relay yet, as any more hostage releases must wait until the next ceasefire.

He denied rumours the government was planning to leave the remaining hostages to their own devices.

Foreign Affairs Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara said earlier their exact number cannot be confirmed, but there are believed to be eight or nine workers still in captivity.

Responding to another question about how the Qatar-mediated negotiations were proceeding, Mr Parnpree said it seemed Israel and Qatar had experienced some disagreements, but this may not affect the Thai hostages as Hamas has already released the majority of them.

On Monday, six freed hostages -- Pattanayut Tonsokree, Owat Suriya, Paiboon Ratnil, Kong Saelao, Chakraphan Sikhena and Chalermchai Saengkaew -- arrived at Suvarnabhumi airport at 12.15pm on El Al Airlines flight LY081.

Mr Kong, 26, has now returned to his hometown of Ban Kiew Doi Luang in tambon Rim Khong of Chiang Khong district in Chiang Rai.

Suntree Saelee, Mr Kong's wife, told reporters she was overjoyed to learn her husband was still alive.

Some 2,174 residents in Chiang Rai had travelled to work in Israel. As of Nov 27, 1,101 had returned to Thailand. Three people from the province have died since the conflict broke out, while two hostages, including Mr Kong, have been released by Hamas.

Meanwhile, Labour Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said the ministry is in talks with other countries to employ Thai workers from Israel to work in their respective agricultural sectors.

Many Thai workers are expected to head to South Korea to work early next year after a bilateral agreement was recently signed to that effect.

Israel has also demanded that Thai workers continue working there and has extended for another year the contracts of those who signed five-year deals.

Regarding compensation, Mr Phiphat said the ministry has paid 15,000 baht to each of the earlier returnees and is preparing to pay the rest.

Additional compensation of 50,000 baht and three-year debt suspension proposals will be submitted to the cabinet next Tuesday.

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