News / Asia

Thai Junta Looks to Shore Up Foreign Relations

Thai soldiers entertain passers-by while providing security at Bangkok's Victory Monument in Thailand Thursday, June 5, 2014.
Thai soldiers entertain passers-by while providing security at Bangkok's Victory Monument in Thailand Thursday, June 5, 2014.
Ron Corben
Thailand is stepping up regional diplomatic efforts to reassure its neighbors following the May 22 coup.  Key meetings will come this weekend in Burma as Thailand looks to talks with its neighbors, as well as the United States.
 
Since the Thai military intervened in the country’s political deadlock last month, it has ousted the government, dissolved the constitution and summoned political leaders, activists and academics for days-long detentions.  
 
Public gatherings to demonstrate against the coup are banned. Journalists, academics and writers who write critically of the ruling authority are summoned for detention. Some have fled abroad.
 
The measures have drawn criticism and concern from neighbors and allies, who have generally called for a return to democratic rule as soon as possible.
 
Thailand’s Foreign Ministry Permanent Secretary Sihasak Phuangketkeow is planning to use this weekend’s regional meetings of the Association of South East Asia Nations (ASEAN) to hold talks with neighbors and reach out to the U.S., India, China, European Union, and others.
 
Foreign Ministry spokesman, Sek Wannamethee, says Thailand has turned to the ASEAN group for support after some 10 nations condemned the May 22 military takeover.
 
"The ASEAN family, they abide by no [internal] intervention - that is clear, in accordance with the ASEAN charter," said Sek. "Secondly our ASEAN partners say they know that any instability in Thailand affects the ASEAN community. The effect on the ASEAN family - they are following developments closely and of course their position is that for Thailand to be stable, politically stable."
 
The coup came after months of deadly political protests and a deadlock between the government and anti-government groups over how the country would move forward. The military says the coup was aimed at pushing through reforms to curb corruption and improve democratic rule.  Coup leaders also say the measure headed off more violence. Since the military took charge, Thai news media has reported the seizure of several large weapons caches.
 
Sek says of 39 countries issuing statements, 10 condemned the coup including the U.S., Britain, France, Canada and Australia.
 
Following the coup the U.S. downgraded military ties, Australia reduced its engagement with the Thai military. Canberra also placed the military leaders on a visa ban list to Australia.
 
Foreign Ministry spokesman Sek said that although Thailand recognizes the concerns of several countries, the military has set out a "roadmap" for elections within two years.
 
"Our message to our international community and western partners is that we understand that they have their norms and values - democratic norms and values which they have to uphold," said Sek. "But when considering their position towards Thailand, please bear in mind the current political situation - the context the military takeover took place."
 
Sek says the new administration is seeking "understanding" and "cooperation" from the West.
 
The military leaders are yet to fully set out a clear timeline for new elections, although Army chief and junta leader, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, says elections could take place within 15 months depending on the security situation.
 
The military administration is now looking to put in place an interim constitution, as well as legislature and reactivate laws suspended following the coup.

You May Like

Mugabe Dismisses Male-Female Equality

'It is not possible that women can be at par with men' incoming African Union president declares on eve of summit More

Somali Terror Suspect's Light Sentence Raises Questions

Abdullahi Yusuf, 18, could have spent 15 years in prison but judge instead sentenced him to a halfway house, and a program to try to integrate him back into the community More

Video Kobani Ravaged Following Kurdish Ouster of IS Militants

Even so, hundreds of refugees sheltering in Turkey seek to return; Kurdish forces hold some back, saying fighting continues More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Goghi
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

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