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Former Prime Minister of New Zealand visits Thailand

          On 27-31 August 2016, the Right Honourable James B. Bolger, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, visited Thailand and attended a series of events to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Mekong Institution as well as the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Thailand and New Zealand.

          The Mekong Institute was initiated based on a concept by the then Prime Minister Bolger during his visit to Thailand in 1994. It is an institution that has played a crucial role in contributing to human resource development as well as training personnel from both Thailand and countries in the Greater Mekong sub-region in the areas of development.  On 29 August 2016, Mr. Bolger attended the Mekong Forum 2016 organized by the Mekong Institute in Khon Kaen and gave a speech titled “Sharing Responsibility for Common Prosperity”. He also met and had discussions with provincial leaders of Khon Kaen.

          On 30 August 2016, on the occasion of Mr. Bolger’s visit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Mr. Virasakdi Futrakul, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, hosted a luncheon in Mr. Bolger’s honour.  After lunch, the Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs presided over a special lecture titled “New Zealand, Thailand, and Asia in the Changing Regional Landscape”. Mr. Bolger was the featured guest speaker alongside Dr. Panitan Wattanayagorn, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University and Mr. Somyod Tangmeelarp, Vice Chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries.  The purpose of this lecture was to share experiences and create understanding about Thailand-New Zealand relations, their role in regional affairs, as well as the impact that this relationship has in the Asian region. About 80 people attended this event, including representatives from the both the public and private sectors as well as academia and international organizations based in Thailand.

         On 31 August 2016, Mr. Bolger met and held discussions with H.E. Mr. Wissanu Krea-ngam, Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand, and H.E. Mr. Don Pramudwinai, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, respectively.

         Mr. Bolger (commonly known in New Zealand as Jim Bolger) is a highly experienced politician and diplomat.  He was a Member of Parliament (MP) for 9 terms and was elected as party leader of the National Party of New Zealand before being elected as the 35th Prime Minister of New Zealand, a position he served for 7 years between 1990 – 1997.  In addition, he served as New Zealand’s Ambassador to the United States.