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Thailand agrees plan for Saudi Arabia labour deployment as ties normalise

BANGKOK

Thailand plans to facilitate the deployment of labour to Saudi Arabia for the first time in decades, its government said on Tuesday (Mar 1), part of the restoration of ties that were severed by the Gulf State over a multi-million dollar jewellery theft.

Thailand has been eager to normalise relations with the oil-rich Kingdom after a spat that has cost billions of dollars in two-way trade and tourism revenues and the loss of tens of thousands of overseas Thai jobs.

The two countries agreed to reestablish full diplomatic ties following the January visit by Prime Minister Chan-ocha to Saudi Arabia.

Thailand’s cabinet on Tuesday approved two draft agreements on legal labour recruitment for Saudi Arabia which will protect the rights of workers and employers, said government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana.

“This will mark a new era of strengthening Thailand-Saudi Arabia economic ties and expanding the Thai labour market into the Middle East,” Thanakorn said.

Saudi Arabia downgraded relations over the theft in 1989 of about US$20 million of jewels by a Thai janitor in the palace of a Saudi prince.

The spat became know as the “Blue Diamond Affair” and a year after the theft, three Saudi diplomats were separately assassinated in a single night. Many of the gems, including a rare blue diamond, are yet to be recovered.

The theft remains of Thailand’s biggest unsolved mysteries and the bloody trail of destruction that followed saw some of Thailand’s top police generals implicated.- Reuters

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