Decades after diplomatic ties were severed over a jewel heist, Saudi Arabia and Thailand have officially reconciled.
“This historic step is the result of long-term efforts at various levels to restore mutual trust and friendly relations,” the joint statement said yesterday after a meeting between Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman . Saudi Airlines announced that flights to Thailand will resume in May.
Discord after million dollar robbery
The two countries severed ties after Thai-born caretaker Kriangkrai Techamong stole $20 million worth of gems from the home of a Saudi prince in 1989. This jewelry included a rare blue diamond.
Saudi Arabia has long accused Thai police of botching investigations into the theft. Riyadh also accused senior Thai officials of misappropriating the stolen gems.
Thai police later returned some of the jewels. However, Saudi Arabia complained that most of them were fake. The whereabouts of the most prized gemstone – a rare 50-carat blue diamond – remains unknown.
Businessman disappeared in Bangkok
Riyadh sent a businessman to investigate in 1990, but he disappeared in Bangkok days after three Saudi diplomats were shot dead in the city.
In 2014, the case against five men, including a senior Thai police officer, allegedly involved in the killing of the Saudi businessman was dropped for lack of evidence. Former caretaker Kriangkrai served five years in prison for stealing jewels and sold most of the gems before his arrest. He became a monk in 2016.