Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday that she would offer US assistance to flood-hit Thailand on a visit next week but wanted to see what the kingdom’s leaders needed.
Clinton said she would highlight “specific measures of assistance” during her talks in Bangkok with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s government.
“We are willing to help the Thai government and the Thai people, but we want to make sure that we are responding to the help requested,” Clinton said after a speech in Hawaii in response to a question from a Thai student.
“It is not up to us to make a judgment on what you need. It is for us to sit with your government and for your officials to tell us what you require and then for us to respond,” she said.
Clinton scheduled the Thai visit between stops in the Philippines and Indonesia after Yingluck canceled her trip to Hawaii for this weekend’s summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.
Clinton said Yingluck “made exactly the right decision” in staying at home to handle the crisis.
Thailand’s response to the major floods has become a sensitive issue.
The US Navy initially sent an aircraft carrier but it left after American officials said that Thailand’s powerful military did not request assistance.
Thailand later asked a US destroyer to extend its stay so its helicopters could survey flood waters.
The Thai government says that 533 people have died in the country’s worst floods in half a century, with the slowly advancing waters now threatening the heart of Bangkok, a city of 12 million people.