PM to sign prisoner deal with Turkey

PM to sign prisoner deal with Turkey

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - The government will sign a treaty on prisoner transfers with Turkey when Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra visits the capital, Ankara, in early July.

Thai ambassador to Turkey, Rathakit Manathat, told the Bangkok Post that Ms Yingluck will become only the second Thai premier to visit Turkey after her elder brother Thaksin Shinawatra went there as prime minister in 2005.

Her visit is aimed at strengthening relations between the countries, he said.

Ms Yingluck and her Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan will sign a prisoner transfer treaty during her visit, Mr Rathakit said.

There are 11 Thai women _ three of whom are pregnant _ and one Thai man jailed in Istanbul. All were convicted of drug smuggling, he said.

Mr Rathakit said drug networks from Southeast Asia are targeting Turkey because it has less severe penalties for drug convicts than countries in this region. He said those convicted for trafficking drugs can receive up to seven years in prison and Turkey does not have the death penalty.

Turkey has become a more important trading partner with Thailand in the past two years. The ties between the countries are expected to continue to grow over the next decade, he said.

Ms Yingluck will invite Mr Erdogan to visit Thailand. His last visit here was in early 2005.

A group of Thai businessmen will join Ms Yingluck on the trip. The Thai embassy plans to introduce the businessmen to Turkish businesses in several industries including spas, construction, rubber, yacht interior design, marble, agriculture, tourism and medical treatment, Mr Rathakit said.

Trade between the two countries reached US$1.3 billion last year, with Thailand importing machinery, ships, jewellery, silver, gold, chemicals, clothing and minerals, he said.

Thailand's export items to Turkey include vehicles and parts, thermoplastics, rubber, thread, artificial fibres, air conditioners and parts, air compressors and gems, he said.

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