Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Relations between Indonesia and Thailand had begun since 1871 when King Rama V (King Chulalongkorn), who reigned during the 1868-1910 period, visited Java thrice in 1871, 1897, and 1901.

The Thai king, who had paid a visit to Batavia and Semarang, also visited Borobudur. The king bought a bronze elephant statue as a souvenir.

The elephant currently stands in front of the National Museum in Jakarta. The king was keen and interested in knowing about ancient Java history, art, and culture.

Furthermore, Thailand had established diplomatic relations with the Republic of Indonesia in March 1950.

In 1967, both nations, along with the Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore, met in Bangkok to establish the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to ensure peace and stability in the region.

Both nations enjoy a cordial relationship ever since.

Indonesia and Thailand have enjoyed sound relations for 68 years.

Ambassador of Thailand to Indonesia Songpol Sukchan affirmed that bilateral relations between Indonesia and Thailand continue to grow and increase in various sectors.

In 2017, bilateral trade between the two countries had exceeded US$16 billion, with an increase in exports of 11 percent.

Indonesia`s exports to Thailand grew almost 20 percent, Songphol Sukchan noted during the Thai National Day celebrations in Jakarta.

More than 100 Thai companies invested in Indonesia.

Over the past five years, he stated that as many as 10 Thai companies had invested some $8 billion in Indonesia and employed more than 16 thousand Indonesians.

This year, out of a total of 37 thousand tourists visiting Thailand, 600 thousand of them are Indonesian tourists, the ambassador stated.

He revealed that Indonesia is the second-largest destination for Thai Muslim students, with some two thousand people studying in various cities in Indonesia.

Ambassador Songphol stated that Indonesia and Thailand must work together to push the bilateral agenda to the highest potential, including political exchange at the highest level, investment, fisheries, agro-industry, tourism, education, and the creative economy.

Indonesia and Thailand must also fight for sustainable development, including the marine environment, sustainable fisheries, environment and renewable energy, the ambassador stated.

Ambassador Songphol pointed out that Indonesia and Thailand were the two largest economies in the ASEAN and complemented each other.

"We have high investment and trade interactions and human relations. Those can be developed," he stated.

In addition, Ambassador Songphol noted that Thailand will become the chair of ASEAN, while Indonesia will become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.

On behalf of the government and people of Indonesia, Secretary General of the Ministry of Education and Culture Didik Suhardi extended congratulations to the Kingdom of Thailand.

Indonesia and Thailand have always enjoyed strong friendship and cooperation and will continue to do so in future.

"We have enjoyed solid bilateral relations since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1950. However, our mutual relationship dates back to the eighth century during the era of the Sriwijaya empire," he stated.

Records show that King Chulalongkorn had visited Java thrice in 1870, 1896, and 1901, with the aim of extending friendship between the people of both nations.

The King bought a bronze elephant statue as a souvenir that currently stands in front of the National Museum in Jakarta, which was famously named Gedung Gajah, or Museum Gajah, while referring to the elephant statue from King Chulalongkorn.

As neighbors, Indonesia and Thailand benefit from their proximity to increase cooperation in various areas.

He remarked that Thailand is an important trading partner for Indonesia. In 2017, total trade between the countries has reached more than $15 billion, a 12 percent increase from the previous year.

Investment between the two countries is also at a satisfying level. Certainly, there is much room for improvement to further boost our economic relations in future, Suhardi remarked.

In the socio-cultural area, Indonesia and Thailand have enjoyed strong people-to-people contacts that have been nurtured through our cooperation in the education sector and cultural exchanges.

Today, Indonesians are familiar with tom yam soup and Pad Thai, while gado-gado and nasi goreng have become common among the Thai people.

Tourism between the two countries has also been growing rapidly. Stronger tourism cooperation will not only enable the people of both nations to better understand each other but also offer economic benefits at all levels of society.

Eventually, all this can only be achieved by our joint efforts in providing a peaceful and stable environment that enables economic growth and cultural exchanges.

"In the political-security sector, we have been working together to strengthen our cooperation to tackle transnational crimes and apply ways to improve our joint efforts to fight terrorism and violent extremism," he remarked.

Indonesia and Thailand have shared a common vision of creating a sustainable ocean for our future generations by strengthening partnership in combating illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing in the region.

At the regional level, Suhardi noted, Indonesia and Thailand are two of the five founders of ASEAN in 1967.

Through ASEAN, both countries have been promoting the establishment of a peaceful Southeast Asian region, in which countries will be able to pursue economic development and prosperity.

"Today, we have reached a point where the ASEAN has acquired a respectable stature and become an even more relevant actor at the global stage," he remarked.

To this end, Indonesia has expressed hope and extends well wishes for Thailand`s success in assuming the ASEAN Chairmanship in 2019. Indonesia welcomes and supports Thailand`s plan to push for ASEAN connectivity to strengthen business and investments in the bloc.

This theme is indeed timely, as connectivity will make ASEAN an even more attractive destination for trade and investments.

"I wish to reiterate our hopes for stronger ties between Indonesia and Thailand," he concluded.

Editing by Sri Haryati

Reporter: Azis Kurmala
Editor: Yosep Hariyadi
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