News Column

Obama Starts Goodwill Southeast Asia Tour

Nov. 18, 2012

President Barack Obama arrived in Thailand Sunday to begin a diplomatic goodwill tour that will include stops in Myanmar and Cambodia.

In Bangkok, Obama's first stop was an ancient monastery, then on to visit 84-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who is hospitalized, The New York Times reported.

Obama was then to meet with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and attend a state dinner.

The president will depart Monday for a brief visit to Myanmar. The country's ruling military junta has softened slightly on human rights in recent years and Obama's visit is meant to encourage further social progress, the newspaper said. Myanmar is also trying to quell ethnic violence against Muslims in the northern state of Rakhine.

His final destination is Cambodia, making him the first U.S. leader to visit the country. It is the most politically unstable of the three countries Obama is visiting on this trip. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge commander, has ruled for more than 25 years with rapid police response to political dissent.

The Times said Obama's tour was meant to substantiate his campaign pledges of giving Asian countries more foreign policy attention.

Source: Copyright United Press International 2012

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