United States drums up south-east Asian support on North Korea

Image Courtesy of U.S. Department of State

Mr Tillerson, the most senior United States official to visit the Kingdom since its 2014 coup, met Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai, and also paid respects to the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

"Thailand are friends with both the U.S. and North Korea".

Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai indicated to reporters that he and Tillerson had discussed Washington's efforts to ensure that pressure was maintained on North Korea to drop its nuclear weapons program.

Malaysia's decades-old ties with North Korea burst into the global spotlight in January when suspected North Korean spies assassinated Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korea's leader Kim jong-un, at Kuala Lumpur airport.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson wrapped up an overnight visit to Malaysia on Wednesday، ending a Southeast Asia tour aimed at signaling President Donald Trump's commitment to the region، ABC News.

Reuters reported exclusively last week that the number of North Koreans slipping illegally into Thailand has surged in recent months.

Tillerson is the first senior official of the Trump administration to visit Malaysia.

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On Prayut's upcoming visit to Washington, Weerachon said Tillerson hoped he would welcome the Thai prime minister and his delegates to the White House soon as both officials continued their discussion on the date of the state visit.

Tillerson was visiting Bangkok after participating in a series of meetings in Manila organised by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, of which Thailand is a member. In June, Thailand confirmed its purchase of four Black Hawk helicopters from the U.S., which has sold the Kingdom about US$380 million worth of military equipment since the 2014 coup.

Activists say the Trump administration is minimizing human rights concerns in a country still run by a military government.

"For Thailand, if it expects to get back in business as usual with the US, it needs to open with lifting repression of fundamental rights and freedoms immediately", he said.

The embassy spokesman said Tillerson "reiterated our desire, as a long-time friend and ally, to see Thailand emerge from this transition period as a strengthened democracy that respects and guarantees human rights and fundamental freedoms at home and plays a leading role in advancing regional security and prosperity".

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson seems to have found a bit of common ground with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, a man remembered infamously for his obscene insults of previous American leaders.

He had met Prime Minister Najib Razak after arriving late Tuesday from Bangkok.