Thailand and the United States have been friends for almost two centuries. There are many unique and special elements in our bilateral relations.
First of all, one reason for the strength of the Thai – U.S. relationship stems from the fact that we both go back a long way and have been through a lot together. Our formal relations extend back 182 years to the signing of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce between our two nations on March 20, 1833, during the Presidency of Andrew Jackson, the seventh United States President, and the reign of His Majesty King Phra Nang Klao, or King Rama III of the Chakri Dynasty. With the signing of such Treaty, the two countries pledged to establish “a perpetual peace” between each other, a vow that has certainly withstood the test of time. We, in Thailand, recall with gratification that this Treaty was the first such Treaty that the United States had concluded with any Asian country.
Exchange of High Level Visits
His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej Maharaj, our present King, was born some 80 years ago in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where his father, His Royal Highness Prince Mahidol, was studying medicine at the Harvard Medical School. Since his accession to the throne over 60 years ago, His Majesty the King has paid two visits to the United States — first in 1960, and again in 1967.
President and Mrs. Clinton visited Thailand in November of 1996 in celebration of the 50th anniversary of His Majesty’s accession to the throne. This marked the first visit by a sitting U.S. President since the visit of President Nixon 27 years earlier in 1969.
In the October of 2003, President George W. Bush visited Bangkok to attend the APEC Summit Meeting. President Bush returned again in August of 2008, when he attended a meeting with Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej.
Onhisfirst trip abroad after his re-election, President Barack Obama visited Bangkok from November 14-15, 2012. President Obama was welcomed by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and had an audience with King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
The Congressional Friends of Thailand Caucus (FoTC) was established on September 24, 2009 and has since been co-chaired by congressmen from both the Democrat and Republican parties, and also has had membership from both sides of the aisle. The objectives of the Caucus are to provide a forum for an exchange of ideas on the Thai – U.S. relationship, as well as strengthening America’s long-term partnership with Thailand so that we can better meet our common challenges and future opportunities in the region.
The Caucus currently consists of 22 members from the U.S. House of Representatives.
In 2002, the Thai Parliament also established “Thailand – United States Parliamentarians Friendship Group” to promote the bilateral relationship between Members of the two legislative bodies. Currently, there are 6 members of the Group, comprising of members of the National Legislative Assembly.
The strong and close ties between the United States and Thailand serve as a solid foundation for the United states’ overall engagement in Southeast Asia and the Asia – Pacific region at large. Such engagement takes the form not only of bilateral contacts between the U.S. Government and each of the countries in the region, but also takes place through U.S. participation in various regional organizations and fora, such as the ASEAN Post-Ministerial Conference, and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).
The ARF, of which Thailand and the United States are among the founding members, is a mechanism that puts a premium on preventive diplomacy to maintain peace and harmony in the region. The United States’ constructive involvement in Asia and cooperation with the like-minded Asian countries have contributed to the region’s overall foundation of peace and security that the region now enjoys. This had made it possible for these Asian countries to concentrate their energies fully on cooperation for the future growth and prosperity of their peoples.
Beyond Thailand herself, a forum has emerged that brings together a group of trading partners with shared values. This is the Asia – Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC), whose 18 members include the United States and Thailand, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN ,comprising Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam,