Thai PM to visit White House in October

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shakes hands with Thailand's Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha at Government House in Bangkok, Thailand August 8, 2017.
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Thailand’s prime minister and junta chief Prayuth Chan-ocha will visit the White House in October, Thailand’s foreign minister said on Tuesday, adding trade and security would be on the agenda, the latest sign of warming ties between Bangkok and Washington.

Last week U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson paid a visit to Thailand – the highest level visit by a U.S. official since the military took power in a 2014 coup.

Tillerson’s trip and Prayuth’s invitation from U.S. President Donald Trump to visit the White House are the latest sign that Bangkok and Washington are re-establishing normal diplomatic relations following the coup.

“There will be discussions with President Trump about trade, investment, military security and the regional situation which is a big issue,” Thai foreign minister Don Pramudwinai told reporters.

The Thai government had previously said the visit would take place in July.

A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok said he had no new information on Prayuth’s visit to the White House, which follows an invitation extended by Trump to Prayuth during an April telephone call between the two.

“We look forward to the Prime Minister’s visit to Washington, DC. We continue to seek a mutually agreeable day for the prime minister’s visit to the White House,” spokesman Steve Castonguay told Reuters.

Tillerson’s priority has been urging Southeast Asian countries to do more to cut funding streams for North Korea as tensions mount between the United States and North Korea.

The United States has said it believes North Korean front companies are active in Thailand and is trying to encourage the Thais to shut them down.

Tillerson, however, made no public comment on North Korean firms during his 5-hour stay in Bangkok where he met with Prayuth.

Don said the issue was not specifically raised during Tillerson’s visit.

“The United States has not pressured Thailand to shut North Korea business,” Don said.

“The secretary’s visit discussed broad issues.” – Reuters

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