Thai official meets with Hamas in Iran to demand release of hostages | Israel-Palestine conflict news

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The backchannel talks took place in Tehran last week, but no agreement has yet been reached.

Thai Muslim officials have reportedly met with Hamas in Iran while trying to release guards held by the Palestinian group in Gaza.

Thai politician Areepen Uttarasin said on Friday that he held “direct talks” with Hamas officials in Iran to discuss the issue. The talks were held in the Iranian capital, Tehran, on October 26 and lasted two hours, he said.

“I told them I’m not here to negotiate but just to release them,” said Areepen, who declined to name the Hamas officials he met with.

Hamas officials told the lawmaker that the Thai prisoners were safe and that they were looking after them. But they did not agree on a date to release the prisoners, he said, saying they were “waiting for the right time”.

At least 23 Thai nationals were among more than 240 people kidnapped by Hamas during unprecedented attacks on Israel on October 7.

The Prime Minister of Thailand, Srettha Thavisin, spoke to his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu on the phone on Wednesday and received an assurance that Israel is making every effort to free all the prisoners, including Thai nationals. Netanyahu also promised to ensure care for all foreign nationals.

However, according to local media, the Thai government is planning a mass evacuation of its nationals from Israel this week, fearing the growing situation on the ground.

Israel ranks third behind South Korea and Taiwan for registered Thai migrant workers and approximately 30,000 Thai workers work in Israel, mostly in the agricultural sector.

Earlier, Thailand’s Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara said that Qatar, Iran and Egypt had agreed to submit Thailand’s request to release the hostages to Hamas immediately.

“I wanted them to take this to Hamas because I’m worried that Hamas doesn’t know that they are just agricultural workers,” Parnpree said at a press conference.

On the Facebook page “Thai Workers in Israel”, the desperate relatives of the detainees have listed the hometowns from which they are taking in some of the poorest places in Thailand, such as Kalasin, Surin and Sisaket.

Despite the dangers, some Thais in the group also said that opportunity must come before their security. One employee said he would go back [to Israel]no matter how bad the security situation gets.

In the flurry of comments that followed, another post summed up the sentiments of many Thai workers abroad: “Poverty is rarer.”

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