New minister lays out foreign policy
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New minister lays out foreign policy

Solving Myanmar conflict a top priority

Maris: Focus on mutual peace
Maris: Focus on mutual peace

Maris Sangiampongsa, the newly appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs, has emphasised Thailand's role in ensuring peaceful dialogue to help solve the conflict in Myanmar.

The ministry held "Meet the Press#1" on Friday to outline his policy. At the gathering, Mr Maris shared his vision of Thailand's foreign policy under the topic of "Ignite Thailand, Re-ignite Thai Diplomacy".

He pointed out the importance of maintaining a good relationship with neighbouring countries because it will help strengthen Thailand's stability, giving the example of the Myanmar crisis, which has affected Thailand's border security.

"Our foreign policy on neighbouring countries should focus on mutual peace, which would create a collaborative effort to seek mutual benefits," he added.

He said the war in Myanmar has affected the Thailand-Myanmar border and Thailand would like to see peace restored in Myanmar because it will help to restore border security and reduce the war's impact on Thailand's borders.

"We have to prioritise Myanmar in the security area. Furthermore, we want to be a key player in making sure a peace dialogue happens to solve the problem in Myanmar effectively.

"Also, humanitarian assistance is important and we will continue pushing in this area, but it needs to be accepted by every party. We want to see the fighting stop and it is our most important concern. Still, we have to keep in mind that this issue is fragile and needs to be worked on slowly," he added.

In addition, Thailand also needs to work with Myanmar on the suppression of illegal businesses, call centre scams and drug trafficking.

Additionally, he said Thailand will also focus on an initiative called "Six Countries, One Destination", to bring neighbouring countries to work together on tourism.

As such, Thailand can use its soft power policy to create integration and creativity in its tourism promotion efforts with neighbouring countries, which could help keep peace and maintain good relationships.

He said Laos, for example, is considered to be the battery of Asia, therefore Thailand could work with Laos on renewable sources such as wind energy, solar energy and hydroelectricity.

Malaysia is a key partner in achieving peace in the prolonged southern Thailand insurgency and along the Thailand-Malaysia border, he said.

Aside from having a clear dialogue, he said collaboration with Malaysia on the southern special economic zone will help to bring the two nations closer together and develop both economies.

For Cambodia, Thailand is about to open the Royal Thai Consulate General in Siem Reap and will also promote collaboration on systematic logistic management.

The minister also aims to use a business-led model to engage with international communities as a way to gain back trust in Thailand.

"Thailand disappeared from the world's radar for a long time because of our internal political conflicts and it needs to regain the trust of international communities.

"We have lost many opportunities, wasted time and the country's true potential.

"Therefore, we need to restore Thailand's image and make sure Thailand has a key role in international communities at both the regional and global levels, and it can be done through trade and investment," he said.

He also highlighted the importance of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), especially with emerging markets in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.

"These countries have strong economic potential. I will try to visit those emerging economies and lay the foundation to ensure the success of Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin's negotiations during his visits to those markets.

"Besides, we also have 'Friends from Thailand', where we are going to push Thais to have more of a role in people-people diplomacy," he added.

He said trade, investment and business are the key areas that will be the main focus for regaining trust from the international community.

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