News / Asia

Obama Reaffirms Close Links with Thailand, Previews Burma Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama poses with Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra during to their meeting at the Government House in Bangkok, November 18, 2012.
U.S. President Barack Obama poses with Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra during to their meeting at the Government House in Bangkok, November 18, 2012.
— In Bangkok, President Barack Obama and Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra have reaffirmed close relations between the United States and Thailand.

After a visit to a royal monastery and symbol of Thailand's Buddhist religion and culture, Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went to a hospital in Bangkok for an audience with ailing Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej.

At 85, the king is a powerful unifying influence for the Thai people through decades of political upheaval, including military coups and a political crisis in 2010.

After bilateral talks, Obama and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra used a news conference to reflect on nearly 180 years of diplomatic relations, and reaffirm deep political, economic and security links.  

Thailand democracy

As in the United States, the president said, democracy is something that needs continuing work.

"What you are seeing here in Thailand is a democratically-elected prime minister, who is committed to democracy, committed to rule of law, committed to freedom of speech and the press and assembly," said Obama. "But obviously what is true in Thailand, as is true in America, is that all citizens have to remain vigilant and there is always improvement to be made."

The Thai prime minister said her government is committed to national reconciliation and stable democracy.

"The destination of us [Thailand] is the stability of democracy, because we believe it will be the fundamental of economic growth in the future," she said. "So, the destination to go with that vision is national reconciliation."

U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tour Wat Pho Royal Monastery in Bangkok, November 18, 2012.U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tour Wat Pho Royal Monastery in Bangkok, November 18, 2012.
x
U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tour Wat Pho Royal Monastery in Bangkok, November 18, 2012.
U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tour Wat Pho Royal Monastery in Bangkok, November 18, 2012.
Obama said it is "no accident" that Asia and oldest U.S. Asian ally Thailand were his first overseas stops since being re-elected. He said the Asia-Pacific region will shape U.S. security and prosperity and is critical to creating jobs and opportunity for Americans.

Burma reforms

President Obama departs early Monday for Burma, the first U.S. president to visit a country starting down a long and difficult road of political and economic reforms.

Previewing his message to Burma, Obama said he will congratulate the Burmese people for progress, but underscore there is a long way to go for reforms to take hold.

"What they will hear from me is that we congratulate them on having opened the door to a country that respects human rights, and respects political freedom, and is saying that it is committed towards a more democratic government," said Obama. "But you will also hear that the country has a long way to go."

Obama said the United States is "calibrating its policies and responses" and will respond if it sees "backsliding and slipping" in the reform process.

In Burma, Obama will meet with Burma's President Thein Sein, who has been carefully managing the reform process.

Aung San Suu Kyi

The president will visit the home of democracy figure and member of parliament Aung San Suu Kyi, who spent years under house arrest at the hands of a military government. The two met at the White House this past September.

Obama and Aung San Suu Kyi are also Nobel Peace Prize laureates. The president received the honor in 2009 for what the Nobel committee called his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.

Aung San Suu Kyi received hers in 1991 for her non-violent for democracy and human rights in her country.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid