Trump to host Thai PM Prayut on Oct 3

Thai Premier Prayut Chan-O-Cha attends the Dialogue of Emerging Market and Developing Countries on the sidelines of the 2017 Brics Summit in Xiamen, China on Sept 5, 2017.
Thai Premier Prayut Chan-O-Cha attends the Dialogue of Emerging Market and Developing Countries on the sidelines of the 2017 Brics Summit in Xiamen, China on Sept 5, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - United States President Donald Trump will host Thai junta chief Prayut Chan-o-cha at the White House on Oct 3 as the pair seek to enhance warming ties and cooperation. 

Ties between the countries had been strained following a coup orchestrated by former Thai army chief Prayut three years ago, although he met Mr Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama during an Asean-US summit in California last February. 

“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. 

Thailand’s military has jailed dissidents, banned protests and ramped up prosecutions under the kingdom’s draconian lese majeste law since toppling the government of Yingluck Shinawatra in 2014. 

But the generals who now run Thailand – a former staunch US ally that has moved closer to Beijing since the coup – are now less likely to be berated for their rights record under Mr Trump. 

During Mr Prayut’s visit, which follows an invitation Mr Trump extended during an April phone call, the pair will “discuss ways to strengthen and broaden bilateral relations and enhance cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region,” the statement added.