In response to Thailand’s request, Australia has agreed to provide assistance in the supply of COVID-19 vaccines, with details to be worked out later, as leaders of the two countries discussed bilateral ties in a phone call this morning (Wednesday).
Aside from the vaccines, other issues discussed were climate change, digital transformation, the post-COVID-19 situation and “new normal” travel, according to Thai Government Spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri.
The call, initiated by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, was an opportunity to strengthen the strategic partnership between the two countries and promote cooperation in areas of mutual interest at both bilateral, sub-regional and regional levels.
Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha expressed his pleasure to talk with Mr. Morrison again and congratulated him over the strategic partnership between the two countries, newly-elevated through the signing of the “Joint Declaration on a Strategic Partnership between the Kingdom of Thailand and Australia” in November 2020. This demonstrates close relations and cooperation, despite the COVID-19 crisis, and lays the foundation for exploration of new opportunities together, he said.
The Australian Prime Minister affirmed Australia’s commitment to further strengthening of relations with Thailand through the strategic partnership and the development of ASEAN-Australia relations toward a comprehensive strategic partnership, amidst the common challenges the world is facing.
On COVID-19, Mr. Prayut commended Australia for its offer to donate vaccines to other nations, under Regional Vaccine Access and Health Security Initiative, QUAD Vaccine Partnership, the Group of Seven (G7) and ASEAN-Australia frameworks. He also thanked the Australian Government for its financial support (AU$2.8 million) provided to Thailand for public health purposes.
Regarding the situation in Myanmar, both parties agreed that humanitarian cooperation must be prioritized. Mr. Morrison supported implementation of the five-point consensus for a tangible outcome. The two Prime Ministers also endorsed a visit by the ASEAN special envoy to Myanmar and called on all parties to seek a peaceful solution through dialogue.
The Thai Prime Minister also took the opportunity to ask Australia to consider allowing Thai students to go back to study in the country at the first opportunity.
With local production of AstraZeneca vaccine for Thailand’s population being slower than expected and mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna not scheduled to be delivered until the fourth quarter of this year, except a million more Pfizer doses to be donated by the US government, Thailand is generally in short supply of COVID vaccines, with about only 7.7% of the population having received two doses.
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