Trump to host Thai junta chief at White House next week
WASHINGTON – Agence France-PresseU.S. President Donald Trump will host Thai junta chief Prayut Chan-O-Cha at the White House next week, in a personal triumph for a Thai autocrat who was shunned by Barack Obama’s administration for his regime’s dismal rights record.
Ties between the long-time allies were strained by Prayut’s 2014 military coup, which ushered in the former democracy’s most authoritarian government for a generation.
But Trump’s administration has started to reset relations with the junta government, dispatching high-level diplomats including the secretary of state, whose predecessors under Obama had noticeably avoided the kingdom in the wake of the coup.
“President Trump looks forward to reaffirming the relationship between the United States and a key partner and longstanding ally in Asia, the Kingdom of Thailand,” the White House said in a statement late Sept. 25.
Speaking to reporters in Bangkok on Sept. 26, Prayut said the two leaders would discuss “security, trade and investment, and regional problems,” adding that he expected the talks to be held in a “cordial climate.”
Human Rights Watch lambasted the Oct. 3 visit, which follows an invitation Trump extended during an April phone call, as the latest sign that the U.S. president has “shamelessly thrown human rights considerations out the window.”