US-Thai ties likely to stay the course

Thailand's relationship with the United States is likely to stay the same no matter who wins the US presidential election next week, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday.

US foreign policy toward the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) is also expected to stay the course, said Sek Wannametee, director-general of the Foreign Ministry's Department of American and South Pacific Affairs.

He said the 180-year relationship between Thailand and the US is unlikely to change because the US considers Asean as a new market with considerable potential.

"Cooperation under the framework of Asean and the US will help tackle regional problems," Mr Sek said during a seminar on the post-election relationship between Asean and the US.

Sujit Boonbongkarn, chairman of the Political Development Council, said Thailand should not experience any security or economic policy changes from the US whether it is Barack Obama or Mitt Romney in the White House.

Neither candidate has mentioned Asean during the campaign, Mr Sujit said, noting that China attracts far more attention from US politicians.

Gen Nipat Thonglek, the Defence Ministry's deputy permanent secretary, said US-Thailand military relations have been cooperative and will remain so after the Tuesday vote.

The US military frequently comes to Thailand to discuss regional security, with particular attention paid to Myanmar and the territorial dispute in the South China Sea, Gen Nipat said.

He said the US still encourages water and air territorial access for all countries concerned in the South China Sea.

US Defence Minister Leon Panetta will pay an official visit to Thailand on Nov 15 ahead of the Asean Defence Ministerial Meeting in Cambodia's Siem Reap to be held the next day, Gen Nipat said.

Prap Piensakul, a representative of the US-Asean Business Council, said American investment in Asean is unlikely to change regardless of who wins, although he favoured a second Obama administration.

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Writer: Thanida Tansubhapol
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