Thailand has been a friend for three-quarters of U.S. history.
“The United States was only 57 years old when we signed a treaty with Thailand stating that there shall be a ‘perpetual peace’ between our countries,” U.S. Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel said recently at a ceremony in Washington, DC, celebrating 180 years of ties between the United States and Thailand.
“That means Thailand has been a friend for three-quarters of U.S. history. And for about one-quarter of U.S. history -- since 1954 -- we have also had a formal defense relationship that has contributed to the security of the [Southeast Asian] region,” Assistant Secretary Russel said. “[But] the depth and breadth of our cooperation is as impressive as its length.”
Thailand and the United States work together to assist refugees and displaced persons, to advance research in public health, and to strengthen law enforcement capabilities throughout Asia.
“Our security cooperation remains indispensable to regional security and stability,” Assistant Secretary Russel said. “Our militaries engage in over 40 joint exercises annually, including Asia’s premier multinational field exercise involving 32 countries, called Cobra Gold, hosted by our Thai partners. Our defense cooperation has played a key role in international efforts from combating piracy off the Somali coast to peacekeeping in Darfur. We are allies in the region and worldwide for peace and prosperity.”
Mr. Russel noted that U.S.-Thai business relations are also deeply rooted. The United States and Thailand benefit from $37 billion in two-way trade each year. Thailand plays an important role in the joint Lower Mekong Initiative, especially in Education and Energy Security, and the U.S. and Thailand are now discussing a cross border initiative to streamline commerce, security, and communications in the region.
“The future of our relationship is at least as much in the hands of our peoples as it is in the hands of our governments,” Mr. Russel said.
Last year, almost 8,000 Thai students studied at U.S. universities and an increasing number of Americans choose to study in Thailand’s universities.
“Our alliance has truly stood the test of time,” Assistant Secretary Russel said in closing. “It's not often that one can witness the 180th anniversary of any relationship.”