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US Secretary of State Pompeo Arrives in Thailand for ASEAN Meeting

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BANGKOK – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has arrived in Thailand to attend the 52nd ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting in Bangkok.

Pompeo has begin his first visit to Thailand as part of a week-long tour of the Indo-Pacific that will include stops in Australia and Micronesia.

His visit comes as Thailand emerges from five years of military rule, with coup leader Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha
retaining power.

Gen. Prayuth remained in power after being voted prime minister by his ruling coalition following March’s disputed election.

The United States condemned Prayuth’s 2014 coup and subsequently downgraded defense ties, raising questions over whether Washington will be satisfied by Thailand’s return to democracy.

Especially amid allegations of electoral fraud and a vote that was widely considered to be rigged in Gen. Prayuth favor.

Since the 2014 coup Thailand has leaned ever closer to China, with increased arms deals, investments and economic cooperation.

New US -Thailand Ties

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump greet Thai Junta Chief Prayut Chan-O-Cha and his wife, Naraporn Chan-O-Cha, as they arrive at the South Lawn of the White House.

The US has expressed readiness to work with Thailand again, and support the country as it assumes the role of chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) this year.

Secretary of State Pompeo is expected to outline increased cooperation with Thailand in defense and other areas during his trip.

He will co-chair a ministerial meeting of the US-Asean Lower Mekong Initiative.

Pompeo’s visit symbolizes Washington’s attempt to forge stronger ties with not only Thailand but also other Southeast Asian countries despite that region’s authoritarian trend.

On Friday, Pompeo will deliver remarks at the Siam Society, meet the Thai foreign minister and take part in ministerial meetings of the East Asia Summit and the Asean Regional Forum.

Mr Pompeo was scheduled to hold a bilateral talk with Thailand’s foreign minister Don Pramudwinai to strengthen the Thailand-U.S. relationships at bilateral and regional levels.

The U.S. is among major negotiating partners with topics of discussion touching on the increased economic and military benefits and strengthened relationships.

Thailand was also scheduled today to hold a bilateral talk with the European Union.