Thailand Pledges Adherence To Sanctions Imposed On North Korea

Bruno Cirelli
Agosto 9, 2017

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson played down President Donald Trump's incendiary warning to North Korea on Wednesday, saying he was just trying to send a strong message in language its leader would understand. Tillerson met the prime minister on Tuesday.

"Coming to Bangkok is a way for Tillerson to show the Prayut regime that the USA is back in the game".

After landing in Bangkok Tillerson, who visited Thailand often as an executive for ExxonMobil, told USA embassy staff he wanted to "grow" the relationship between America and its oldest Asian ally, "even in its ups and downs".

In a statement issued over the weekend, Asean foreign ministers expressed "grave concerns" over the escalation of tensions due to North Korea nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches and its most recent testing of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

But Mr Eugene Mark, a senior analyst with S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, cautioned that given the dynamic nature of the Trump administration, "any shift in United States foreign policy is highly dependent on the kind of deal Thailand could offer to the Americans". Thailand exported US$73.8 million worth of products to North Korea in 2015, according to the United Nations global trade statistics database.

U.S. officials say United States intelligence gathering has identified North Korean front companies in Thailand, Malaysia and Myanmar, where North Korean operatives hold secret meetings and do business to generate much needed foreign currency.

There was no direct reaction from North Korea to Tillerson's remarks but in a statement after the USA secretary of state made his comments, Pyongyang responded robustly to the new sanctions by saying it was ready to teach the United States a "severe lesson" if it attacked.

The foreign minister said the statement was not meant merely to pressure North Korea but to address the issue constructively. He says he told Ri "do not violate the United Nations decision or provoke the worldwide community's goodwill by conducting missile launches or nuclear tests".

Tillerson downplayed any speculation that the alarming developments suggested the US was moving closer to a military option to dealing with the crisis over the North's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Tillerson is the highest level American diplomat to visit Thailand since a 2014 coup strained ties between the longtime friends and saw China cosy up to Bangkok with massive military sales and infrastructure deals.

Representing the United States at the dinner was Susan Thornton - acting assistant secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs.

In a phone call, South Korea's Moon and Trump said they would continue cooperating to rein in North Korea, particularly ahead of a regular joint military drill set for late August, South Korean presidential office spokesman Park Su-hyun said. He said only his cabinet members could visit those countries at that time. "It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before", he said. "Hopefully we will never have to use this power, but there will never be a time that we are not the most powerful nation in the world!"

Thailand is the US's oldest ally in Asia, with diplomatic relations dating back 184 years.

The american secretary of State had excluded Monday, at a regional summit in Manila -where Thailand was represented - a quick return to dialogue with North Korea.

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