The leader of Thailand’s ruling Pheu Thai Party will lead a delegation on a March 18-19 visit to Phnom Penh, where they are scheduled to meet with key figures from the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), according to a February 23 CPP press release.

The release said Paetongtarn Shinawatra will meet CPP president Hun Sen, Senate president Say Chhum, National Assembly president Khuon Sudary and Prime Minister Hun Manet.

The trip stems from Hun Sen’s February 21 call on former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, his “God brother”, at his home in western Bangkok after he was discharged from a military hospital, where he spent six months in detention following over 15 years of self-imposed exile. While there, Hun Sen took the opportunity to invite Paetongtarn, Thaksin’s youngest daughter, to visit Cambodia.

“The high-level visit is aimed at exchanging views on cooperation by the two neighbouring countries to serve the common interests of the people and the two ruling parties, based on their bonds of friendship and close cooperation,” added the release.

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said on February 25 that the visit would enhance the relationship between the two parties, which will have a positive impact on the cooperation between their respective governments, and accelerate the resolution of stalemates or difficulties that the two countries are facing.

“Regarding party-to-party relations, we expect to discuss or sign an agreement or memorandum of understanding [MoU] which will determine the right path forward for cooperation, as well as future exchanges between leaders and top officials. The visit of the Pheu Thai president will further deepen ties between the two ruling parties,” he explained.

He spoke highly of the excellent relations between Pheu Thai – the third incarnation of Thai Rak Thai Party founded by Thaksin – and the CPP, a longstanding relationship built by then-Prime Minister Hun Sen and his former counterpart, now 74. Their relations were further strengthened when Thaksin’s sister Yingluck Shinawatra became prime minister while Thaksin lived in exile.

Eysan described the relations as unprecedented in history, and expressed optimism that they will push the government-led relationship between the two kingdoms to new heights, strengthening trade cooperation, solving common issues and increasing people-to-people exchanges.

He also suggested that good relations would provide support to the large number of Cambodians living and working in Thailand.

Kin Phea, director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, said the upcoming visit demonstrates the closeness between the two ruling parties and the deep ties between their senior figures, including Hun Sen and Thaksin, as well as their successors Manet and Paetongtarn.

He added that the good relations between the two ruling parties will serve as a bridge that will increase the level of relations between the two countries, provided there is no change in the internal politics of either nation.

He believes that both sides will push to expand their comprehensive strategic partnership, as discussed during Manet’s recent visit to Thailand.

“Close liaisons between neighbouring countries is important to strengthen political stability, public order and cooperation in the fight against human and drug trafficking, as well as other transnational crime. It is also crucial to support trade and investment, labour flows, cross-border trade and tourism, especially while Thais are the number one foreign visitors to Cambodia,” he explained.

Meas Nee, a social development researcher, said the Pheu Thai Party and the CPP have had good relations for a long time, due to the close relationship between Hun Sen and Thaksin. The visit of Thaksin’s daughter to Cambodia this March is a clear signal of further strengthening ties between the two ruling parties.

“It is important to remember that good relations at the political level between the two countries are a good thing and provide stability between the two countries. This is necessary to prevent espionage, illegal cross-border trade and transnational crimes,” he added.