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

Multimedia Obama, Modi Break Nuclear Deal Deadlock

Impasse over liability issues had been stalling bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation; deal reached at start of US president's three-day visit to India More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid