US wants to expand ties with Thailand, seeks strategic talks

PHOTO: The Nation/ANN

The United States has sought to expand its co-operation with Thailand and is exploring the idea of holding a fifth strategic dialogue soon, Foreign Ministry spokesman Sek Wannamethee said yesterday.

Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai discussed bilateral relations between the two countries with the US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, currently underway in New York.

The US gives importance to Thailand as a long-time partner and wants to expand its co-operation with the Kingdom in all aspects for bilateral and regional benefit, Sek said after the meeting.

The US understands the roles of Thailand in the region and in the UN system, so Washington wants to co-operate more with the Kingdom for mutual interests, he said.

"Thailand and US relations have been going 183 years. The ties [between the two nations] are long and we have to look to the future in the long run as well," he said.

In the region, Thailand has played driving roles in ASEAN, of which the US is a key partner, he said.

He also noted that Washington needed Thailand, as one of its oldest allies, to push many global agendas such as for public health, disease outbreak control, disaster management and peace keeping.

Thailand's relationship with the US became cool following the military coup in May last year and Washington pressed the government to quickly restore democracy and respect human rights.

After a long vacancy in the top position at the US mission in Bangkok, the arrival of new US Ambassador Glyn Davies has been interpreted as a positive sign, Sek said.

The new US ambassador had good intentions and a good understanding of Thailand, qualifications that will help promote better relations, he said.

The US knows Thailand is in a reform process and will become stronger when the country returns to normal, he said.

For the benefit of relations, the joint military exercise Cobra Gold will continue as usual next year and the US recognises the role of Thailand in combating regional migration after Bangkok called for an international meeting on the issue in May, he said.

During the meeting in New York officials from both sides exchanged ideas on the possibility of holding the fifth strategic dialogue meeting in Thailand as soon as possible after a long delay. The previous strategic dialogue was held in Washington in 2012 and aimed to guide the direction of the countries' relationship.