BANGKOK, Sept 7 – Malaysia and Thailand will discuss several key bilateral issues ranging from cooperation in combating international terrorism to the southern Thai peace talks during their annual consultation meeting on Friday. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak will lead Malaysia’s delegation to the meeting, while his counterpart Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha will lead the Thai delegation.
“Gen Prayuth and his Malaysian counterpart are expected to discuss cooperation between both countries in border management, transnational crime and human trafficking suppression as well as cyber security,” said a statement by the Thai cabinet late last night.
The two countries, it said, would discuss ways to increase cooperation to combat international terrorism and extremism by exchanging intelligence information. It added the two leaders are also expected to exchange views on the initiatives to bring peace and development to the restive southern Thai provinces.
Bangkok and Mara Patani, an umbrella body for several southern Thai militant groups, have been holding several rounds of the informal peace talks in Kuala Lumpur, with Malaysia as the facilitator. Therefore, the latest round was held in Kuala Lumpur last week.
On the economic front, said the statement, both leaders would discuss ways to increase bilateral trade between the two countries to US$30 billion annually in 2017 as well as promote border trade. Thailand is Malaysia’s fourth largest trading partner, with bilateral trade between them reaching US$22billion last year.
To promote border trade, the joint consultation will discuss expanding the Sadao-Bukit Kayu Hitam border checkpoint for easier and faster movement of goods. Both leaders will also discuss the proposal to integrate the special economic zones in Sadao and Narathiwat in southern Thailand with Perlis’s Chuping Valley, and expanding Malaysia’s dual-track rail from Padang Besar to Hatyai.
The joint consultation, said the statement, would discuss the setting up of the Thailand-Malaysia Business Association, the promotion of halal industries and youth education in the southern Thai provinces. Both countries are expected to sign several memorandums of understanding on cooperation in several fields. Najib is expected to arrive in Bangkok this evening after attending the Asean Summit in Vientiane, Laos. — Bernama