President Obama is practicing a new brand of foreign relations, appearing to flirt with Thailand’s attractive prime minister on his first stop of his three-day tour of Southeast Asia.
The president and Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra could be seen laughing together and exchanging playful glances through a state dinner at the Government House in Bangkok on Sunday.
And just hours later, Obama jetted to Myanmar, where he was pictured lavishing affection on Aung San Suu Kyi, the pro-democracy leader who was under house arrest for two decades following her fight for democracy.
He was joined in Thailand by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. They then visited Myanmar - also known as Burma - and Cambodia, making him the first U.S. president to step foot in either country.
He said it is 'no accident' that he planned his first foreign trip to Asia after winning re-election.
Speaking at a news conference on Sunday in Bangkok, Obama emphasized that the U.S. is a 'Pacific nation.'
He said the Asia-Pacific region will be crucial for creating jobs in the U.S. and shaping its security and prosperity.
Obama's praised Thailand for being a supporter of democracy in Myanmar, the once-pariah state that is rapidly reforming.
Obama said that his landmark visit to Myanmar is an acknowledgement of the democratic transition underway but not an endorsement of the country's government.
He said he also wants to congratulate the people of Burma for having 'opened the door' to being a country that respects human rights and political freedom.
Obama is also seeking to open new markets for U.S. businesses; the United States is Thailand's third biggest trading partner, behind China and Japan.
Becoming a counterweight to China in the region is a keystone of Obama's so-called pivot to the Asia-Pacific region.
Obama's trip comes on the heels of meetings in Thailand between Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and his Thai counterparts on security and military cooperation on issues ranging from fighting weapons proliferation to disaster relief to countering piracy.
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