Foreign Affairs Minister
Date of Birth: 15/12/1944
Place of Birth: Thonburi, Bangkok
Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya is finding more time to develop budding relations with Africa. In a modest step toward that goal, Kasit presided over the launch of a flashy, official website on 30 November, www.thaiafrica.net, to spur private sector interest in Africa. Business with the continent accounts for less than 3% of Thailand's total trade.
So far this year, Bangkok has focused on reducing the potential for former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to use African countries as bases for political and economic activities (ACC Vol 2 No 7). Meanwhile, Kasit has said that Bangkok will focus on relations with Morocco and Sudan, using North Africa as a testing ground for deeper ties. He visited South Africa in March and talked up plans for agricultural cooperation.
Born in 1944, Kasit entered the Foreign Affairs Ministry in 1968, working in the Departments of International Organisations, Information and Economic Affairs. He has been Ambassador to the Soviet Union and Mongolia (1991-1993), Indonesia and Papua New Guinea (1994-1996), Germany (1997-2001), Japan (2001) and the United States (2004-05).
Kasit's 2005 retirement was brief and he soon joined those calling for the removal of his one-time boss Premier Shinawatra, following the troubled sale of Shin Corp to Singapore's Temasek Holdings. Kasit supported the military coup that overthrew Thaksin in 2006 and after 2008 elections just as vociferously criticised Samak Sundaravej's new government. By year's end, Democratic Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva was elected as the new Prime Minister and Kasit joined his cabinet as Foreign Minister.