U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson paid visits to Thailand and Malaysia on Tuesday, in an effort to shore up relations with two of America’s Southeast Asian allies and urge them to maintain pressure on North Korea.
Tillerson flew to Bangkok from the Philippines, where he had met with his counterparts from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations at an annual regional gathering that focused heavily on North Korea’s push to advance its nuclear weapons and missile programs.
He became the top U.S. official to visit Thailand since the nation’s military seized power from an elected civilian government three years ago, causing relations with the United States to sour.
Thailand has long been one of Washington’s closest regional allies, but relations have been strained over U.S. criticism of Thailand’s military government for its repression of critics and failure to restore democracy. However, President Donald Trump’s administration has made human rights less of a priority than did its predecessors.
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