About the Author: William J. Burns serves as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.
On Friday, I visited Thailand as the first stop on my trip to Southeast Asia. As Secretary Clinton said in Bangkok one year ago, I came "to strengthen and deepen this important friendship and alliance that has stood the test of time," and to discuss with our Thai friends how we can cooperate even further to improve the lives of Thais and Americans.
During my visit, I participated in the third round of the U.S.-Thailand Strategic Dialogue with Foreign Minister Kasit and met with Prime Minister Abhisit. We had engaging discussions about how Thailand and the United States are working together to address regional and global issues, and ways that we can increase our strategic partnership in the years ahead. Foreign Minister Kasit and I spent some time exploring ideas to strengthen our commercial ties and improve economic opportunities for all of our citizens, and discussed the U.S.-Thai Creative Partnership we are launching to continue expanding cooperation between our governments to increase mutual investment and trade. This initiative will introduce U.S. businesses to export opportunities in Thailand and support President Obama's National Export Initiative. The reach of this partnership -- involving American and Thai universities, businesses, and research institutions -- demonstrates the richness and breadth of the U.S-Thailand relationship, truly a friendship and a partnership.
One of the highlights of my visit was speaking with Thai students, professors, and other guests at Chulalongkorn University, and a follow-on roundtable at which I had the opportunity to discuss with civil society representatives the future of this country. Many of the recent headlines coming out of Thailand have focused on the domestic political debate, protests, and unfortunate violence in the streets of Bangkok. The United States was deeply saddened by this violence, and supports Thailand's efforts to promote reconciliation. I come away from my discussions here with an appreciation of the complexity of the issues that Thailand is confronting, but hopeful that the dedication I heard from Thai voices to forging a better future based on a peaceful and democratic process will ultimately allow Thailand to navigate these issues and continue to grow stronger.
My stay in Thailand was far too short, and I am grateful to the Thai people for their kind hospitality. I left confident in the enduring bonds between the United States and Thailand. We share more than a critical alliance -- we share values in democracy, economic opportunity, and human rights. I look forward to building on these shared values to strengthen and broaden our partnership even further.