11 July 2024

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin will attend the inaugural summit between ASEAN and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on Friday, immediately following his visit to China, according to high-level government sources.

Srettha will wrap up his four-day trip to China, which begins on Monday, and fly directly to Riyadh for a two-day visit. The prime minister will join other ASEAN leaders on Friday at the summit, which will be held in the Saudi capital. Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman will be the host.

The sources said that Srettha will have the opportunity to hold side-line meetings with other GCC members, to expedite the repatriation of Thai workers from Israel. The government has pledged to bring back all workers who want to return home as soon as possible.

After more than two decades, ASEAN-GCC relations have been revitalised due to the new paradigm caused by rivalry between the superpowers. In addition, GCC members are very active in shaping the new international order.

The first ASEAN-GCC Ministerial Meeting was convened in June 2009 in Manama, Bahrain and saw the adoption of the ASEAN-GCC Joint Vision. This outlined a study, to be undertaken by both sides, and their joint recommendations on the future of ASEAN-GCC relations regarding a free trade area, economic cooperation and development, culture, education and information.

Under the Indonesian chair, ASEAN has further reached out to the Middle East to broaden engagement with the oil-rich region. As a result, all GCC members have acceded to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC). Bahrain was the first GCC member to sign the TAC in 2019 and the rest have followed suit over the past two years.

By Kavi Chongkittavorn