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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs