Thai PM welcomes upcoming visit by Secretary Blinken

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will soon visit Thailand, according to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha who said that the upcoming trip underscores that the U.S. still regards Thailand as an important strategic partner in the region.

The Prime Minister informed local media about Blinken’s intention after a video conference with the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council (USABC), a private industry group of leading American corporations engaged in investment and commerce with the ten countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The Prime Minister also met with Michael Heath, Charge d’affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, and Ted Osius, President and CEO of USABC.

Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said that Heath told the meeting that it bolstered the U.S.’s longstanding friendship with one of its oldest allies. Thailand was the first treaty partner of the U.S. in Asia.

Although the timing and details of Blinken’s upcoming visit were not disclosed, the Secretary of State has visited only Japan and South Korea in East Asia since assuming his post as America’s top diplomat.

The administration of President Joseph Biden holds a similar view to that of the earlier administration of President Barack Obama that U.S. foreign policy should increasingly be geared more towards Asia in this century.

During the Prime Minister’s conference with the Business Council, representatives of 49 multinational corporations exchanged views with Thailand’s leader.

Prayut said that the discussions focused solely on business and commerce.

“Business is business. Our affairs are kept separate,” he said, adding that his sense from the executives was that Thailand has not lost any of its appeal to foreign investors.

The discussion covered challenges in industries such as health, technology, tourism and services.

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