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

Photogallery Oxfam: Ebola Could Be 'Disaster of Our Generation'

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, says the Caribbean island nation will 'gladly cooperate' with the US in the fight against Ebola in West Africa More

Multimedia Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

Refugees receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed More

India’s Ruling Nationalist Party Makes Gains in Regional Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge margin over its rivals puts it on course to form governments in the northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid