Prince shells out for plane to end diplomatic row

By Andrew Buncombe

Thailand's Crown Prince has agreed to pay more than €13.5 million ($22 million) to secure the release of an impounded aircraft at the centre of an unlikely diplomatic spat between his nation and the German authorities.

Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn said he would pay the bond from his own funds to ensure the return of the Boeing 737, which he owns, to end an uncomfortable stand-off between the two countries.

"The Crown Prince has no connection with the dispute," the Prince's secretariat said. "To avoid any impact to the good relationship between Thailand and Germany and to end the dispute on good terms and in an expeditious manner, the Crown Prince will provide his personal funds to end the dispute."

The tussle between the two countries has triggered fresh speculation about why the Crown Prince's private jet was in Munich.

This year, United States diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks referred to unsubstantiated rumours about the Prince's health and whether he was travelling to Germany for medical treatment.

The aircraft was seized last month in Munich by insolvency officials pursuing what they said was a 20-year-old debt owed by the Government of Thailand to a now-defunct German construction firm, Walter Bau AG.

The impounding of the aircraft infuriated Thailand's Government, which said it was the personal property of the Prince. It sought to have the aircraft released without payment.

"We are confident that the aircraft belongs to the Crown Prince. He is not involved with this case and the documents are very solid, so there is no need to pay the guarantee," said Thailand's Foreign Minister, Kasit Piromya.

- Independent

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