November 08, 2012 00:00 By PIYANART SRIVALO, SUPALAK GAN
Newly re-elected US president and outgoing Chinese PM to visit this month
US President Barack Obama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will visit Thailand late this month to reaffirm their respective regional strategies after the political shake-ups in both Washington and Beijing, government and diplomatic sources said yesterday.
Obama, who was re-elected to the White House for a second term yesterday, will visit the Kingdom on November 18 and meet with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on the day of his arrival.
Obama’s visit was scheduled before election day in the US, and officials confirmed the US president had insisted on the visit whether he was re-elected or not. As of yesterday, an official at Government House said his visit was still on, but details had not been finalised.
It remained unknown what issues Obama and Yingluck would discuss during the visit.
Yingluck yesterday congratulated Obama on his victory, saying her government would maintain its policies regarding the US and continue to cooperate with the White House.
The visit to Thailand of President Obama is one leg of his Asian visit, which will also take him to Phnom Penh for the East Asia Summit and related high-level meetings this month.
Washington has made a clear policy during Obama’s administration to boost its presence in Asia-Pacific as China’s influence grows in this part of the world. To establish a clear presence in the region, Washington has said it wants to increase its military’s role in natural-disaster management, proposing that it be allowed to use U-tapao airbase for that purpose. The idea has been intensively discussed on both sides of the political aisle here from time to time.
Meanwhile, Wen is scheduled to visit Bangkok on November 20 after his trip to the summit in Phnom Penh, a diplomatic source said.
Unlike Washington, Beijing has not yet completed the process of changing its leadership, with the incoming line-up due to be approved by the end of this month.