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Thailand a natural bridge between India and East Asia: US

world Updated: Jul 17, 2010 11:52 IST

As India, an emerging global power, is steadfastly implementing its Look East Policy, a top US official has said that Thailand is a "natural bridge" between India and East Asian countries.

"The rise of new powers -- India and China -- and their interactions with the existing order and established powers pose both significant opportunities and challenges," Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Bill Burns, said in his speech at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok on Friday.

"We will continue to have an important stake in the region and bring significant assets to bear as a powerful economy and a global magnet for higher education and innovation.But that does not mean that Americans have a monopoly on wisdom -- I've learned that a little humility goes a long way in the exercise of American leadership," he said.

Burns is currently travelling the region.

"We will continue to look to Thailand's deep historical experience in navigating geopolitical currents in the region. Thailand serves as a key strategic pivot between territorial and maritime Asia and is a natural bridge between India and East Asian countries, with which India seeks stronger relations," Burns said.

"Amidst the significant changes and upheavals of the Asia-Pacific regional order, Thailand has remained a key driver of ASEAN's evolution, and a proponent of economic growth grounded in democratic institutions. Thailand's importance in regional stability at a time of significant change cannot be overstated," he said.

Even as the US and Thailand relationship is strengthening, Burns acknowledged there is differences between the two countries on the issue of Burma.

"The United States and Thailand may sometimes have differences when it comes to Burma policy, but we share the aspiration of a Burma which is unified, peaceful, prosperous, responsive to the needs of its people, and respectful of international norms, such as UN Security Council Resolutions 1718 and 1874," he said.

"As Burma approaches its first elections since 1990, the US and Thailand have a shared interest in pressing for an inclusive, transparent, and credible electoral process," Burns said.

"A first step towards this should be a genuine dialogue among all stakeholders and the release of more than 2100 political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi. We urge Thailand, as a member of ASEAN and as Burma's neighbour, to use its position of leadership in the region to press Burma's leaders to adopt a course of political reform," he said.