The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
 FORMER MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, AUSTRALIA

Media Release

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer
22 September 2000

Diplomatic Appointment: Ambassador to Thailand

I have today announced the appointment of Mr Miles Kupa as Australia's Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand.

Mr Kupa will replace Mr William Fisher, who has been Ambassador since December 1997. He is expected to take up his appointment in November 2000.

Australia's relations with Thailand are at a high point. The bilateral relationship spans trade and investment, defence, education, narcotics control, tourism, cooperation on foreign policy and refugee issues and aid. While relations have always been cordial, recent events have generated considerable goodwill and positioned Australia firmly in Thai minds as a reliable friend and partner. These events include Australia's contribution in 1997 of US$1 billion to the IMF package put together for Thailand to deal with the economic crisis; the Prime Minister's visit to Thailand in April 1998 and his announcement of further aid to help Thailand weather the storms of the economic crisis; and Australia's strong support for Thailand's candidate for the WTO Director General position. The bilateral relationship was also strengthened by cooperation over East Timor and by recent exchanges on regional security. Thailand's economic recovery provides opportunities for still closer economic links.

Mr Kupa is a career diplomat and is currently a Deputy Secretary with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. He has already served twice in Thailand - on his first posting and as Deputy Head of Mission from 1982-83. He has also had assignments in Egypt, France, Iraq (as Ambassador, 1983-86), Indonesia (as Deputy Head of Mission, 1986-88) and the Philippines (as Ambassador, 1996-99).

In Canberra in 1991, Mr Kupa was seconded to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. He was subsequently head of the Office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (1991-93) and Head of DFAT's South and South East Asia Division (1993-95).

Mr Kupa is a member of the Boards of the Australia-China Council, the Australia-Korea Foundation and the Australia-Japan Foundation. He is a member of the Advisory Board of the Australian National University's Centre for International and Public Law; and the Executive Board of the Asia-Australia Institute at the University of New South Wales.

Mr Kupa was born in Czechoslovakia in 1946. He is married to Ms Zulaikha (Zuly) Chudori, also an officer of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. They have one son, Alexander. Mr Kupa speaks Indonesian, Thai and French.

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