U.S. drums up south-east Asian support on North Korea

Henrietta Brewer
August 10, 2017

A spokeswoman for the State Department's East Asia Bureau said Mr Tillerson, who will be the most senior U.S. official to visit Thailand since a 2014 coup, will discuss a broad range of issues including security, trade and investment.

Allied traditional Washington, Thailand is however one of the few countries in South-East Asia to host an embassy of north korea, and has strong trade linkages with Pyongyang.

The main objective of Tillerson's trip has been to galvanize diplomatic and political forces against North Korea.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson paid visits to Thailand and Malaysia on Tuesday, in an effort to shore up relations with two of America's Southeast Asian allies and urge them to maintain pressure on North Korea.

Malaysian police are also investigating allegations that North Korea has been violating worldwide sanctions through Malaysian businesses.

"We've condemned nuclear weapons and supported the United Nations resolution", Prayut said.

Mr Don told reporters that he informed Mr Tillerson that trade value fell 94% during the first half of this year compared with the same period of last year, in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions.

Thailand, like other Southeast Asian countries, has also been cultivating closer ties with China, causing consternation in Washington.

Tillerson was the first top USA official to visit Thailand since the nation's military seized power from an elected civilian government three years ago، causing relations with the United States to sour.

Mr Tillerson visits Bangkok today after attending regional meetings in Manila at the weekend. The Thai foreign minister said human rights issues were not discussed.

Don said that in his 45-minute talk with Tillerson, "Nothing was discussed about human rights".

"For Thailand, if it expects to get back in business as usual with the USA, it needs to open with lifting repression of fundamental rights and freedoms immediately", he said.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson seems to have found a bit of common ground with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, a man remembered infamously for his obscene insults of previous American leaders.

Analysts see the trip as a signal of improved US-Thailand relations under US President Donald Trump's administration, following a previous downgrade of diplomatic and military relations in protest of the military regime.

In a statement issued by the deputy government's spokesman, Lt Gen Weerachon Sukhonpatipak after the meeting, the prime minister, according to him, has assured Tillerson of Thailand's roadmap for a return to democracy.

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