Thai PM invites Russia’s Putin for official visit

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Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin has invited Russian President Vladimir Putin for an official visit next year, he said in Beijing on Wednesday.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has thrown Putin into international isolation, leaving him with few allies.

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The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Putin over the alleged deportations of thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia.

Thailand -- which is not a state party to the ICC Rome Statute -- opted to maintain cooperation with Russia.

Srettha and Putin met on the sidelines of China’s Belt and Road Initiative forum on Tuesday night and discussed boosting trade and cultural ties.

“I invited him to visit Thailand next year,” Srettha said Wednesday.

“President Putin likes Phuket, I understand he travels often,” he said, referring to a Thai resort island.

According to a Thai government statement, Putin has accepted the invitation, but a date has yet to be set.

During the meeting with Srettha, Putin lamented a decline in bilateral trade due to a “turbulent international situation,” according to the TASS Russian news agency.

More than a million Russians visited tourism-dependent Thailand this year.

Thailand recently made changes to its visa arrangements to allow Russians to visit the kingdom for up to three months -- an increase from 30 days.

Thailand joined China and India in abstaining at a UN General Assembly vote last year to condemn Russia’s annexation of parts of Ukraine.

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