11 July 2024

President Emmanuel Macron of France has officially confirmed that he will attend the upcoming Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum scheduled for November 18-19, according to spokesman of the Foreign Ministry Tanee Saengrat.

He said Macron will be here as a special guest of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

Thai PBS World reported last week that the invitation is special as France, a leading member of the European Union,  is not a member of APEC.  It will also be the French leader’s first visit to Thailand since he became president in 2017. He is currently serving a second term.

Several countries have shown interest in attending the Bangkok APEC leaders’ meeting because it is an opportunity to meet person-to-person for the first time in three years within the APEC framework. The EU, the United Kingdom and India are also countries which Thailand has planned to invite because of their close economic ties with Asia-Pacific nations.

APEC members have not met face to face since 2019, after the scheduled meeting in Chile was cancelled due to domestic turmoil over the rising cost of living. The pandemic in 2020 and 2021 also prevented the leaders from meeting in person.

Thai PBS World has also learned that Saudi Arabia, an oil-rich country, could be the host’s guest at the APEC event in Bangkok as well. After attending the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, newly appointed Saudi Prime Minister Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is scheduled to visit Bangkok. Thai-Saudi ties have been improving since January, after more than three-decade of frozen relations.

Thailand has been told that US President Joe Biden will skip the forum in Bangkok as he will have to attend the wedding of his granddaughter to be held at the White House during that time.