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Foreign Minister holds discussions with Thailand

February 21, 2013

Foreign Minister Bob Carr today held talks in Bangkok with Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Surapong Tovichakchaikul.

Senator Carr and Dr Surapong discussed a range of regional economic and security matters including the threat to international peace from North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and missiles.

“Dr Surapong and I are agreed in our condemnation of nuclear testing by North Korea in contravention of unanimously agreed United Nations Security Council resolutions,” Senator Carr said.

“We discussed regional matters, including the South China Sea, cooperation in the East Asia Summit and the challenges of irregular people movements in the region.

“I expressed our appreciation for Thailand’s support for Australia’s election to the UN Security Council in October last year and briefed Dr Surapong on Australia’s priorities for its two year term on the Council.

“I also expressed my strong support of Thailand’s 2017-18 UNSC bid.

“Our mutual support on our respective UNSC bids reflects the enduring partnership between our two countries in regional and multilateral fora.”

The talks took place during Senator Carr’s first visit to Thailand as Foreign Minister, and follow on from the visit of Thai Prime Minister Yingluck to Australia in 2012 during the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations.

Thailand is a founding member of ASEAN and a key South East Asian partner for Australia.

Senator Carr said education is a pillar of the relationship between Australia and Thailand.

“In 2012, over 19,900 Thai students were enrolled in courses in Australia,” Senator Carr said.

“This year, for the first time, we are providing 11 scholarships for Australian students to study in Thai universities.

“We have established a BRIDGE program to link Australian and Thai schools which aims to build ties between our young people and to teach them language skills and provide knowledge and appreciation for the cultures of our two countries.”

Senator Carr and Foreign Minister Surapong also reviewed progress in the bilateral trade relationship, which is underpinned by the Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) and the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA).

Both Ministers said they looked forward to Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations to deliver new opportunities for business.

As the second largest economy in ASEAN, Thailand offers export and investment opportunities for Australian business.

Between 2009 and 2011, Thai investment in Australia increased more than 10 fold – from $1.3 billion to $13.4 billion.

Thailand is Australia’s 9th largest trading partner and Australia is Thailand’s 8th largest trading partner.

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