BANGKOK (AP) — Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met his Thai counterpart, Prayuth Chan-ocha, on Monday for talks on economic, security and geopolitical issues, including political upheaval in Myanmar and Russia’s war in Ukraine. .
The two leaders also oversaw the signing of three agreements covering financial cooperation, the transfer of defense equipment and technology, and support for an emergency response to COVID-19.
Kishida is in the midst of an overseas trip to five countries. He has previously visited Indonesia and Vietnam and will travel to Italy and the UK after Thailand.
Japan has long been a major economic investor in Thailand, and in a press conference after the meeting, Prayuth said the two nations were developing a five-year strategic plan for an economic partnership.
He said he and Kishida agree on the importance of supply chain connectivity to enhance the development of smart agriculture, 5G communication technology, artificial intelligence, robotics and electrical vehicles and components.
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Prayuth also said he was pleased with their countries’ “close defense and security cooperation”, but did not elaborate. The United States has traditionally been Thailand’s closest security partner, but ties have loosened over the past decade as China has expanded its influence in Southeast Asia. Japan, China’s strategic rival, is keen to counterbalance Beijing’s ascendancy.
The war in Ukraine figured prominently in Kishida’s talks during his trip, and he and Prayuth both said they were concerned about escalating tensions there and called for an end to all the hostilities.
Prayuth said he offered a new approach to ending confrontation by focusing on humanitarian considerations, and that a similar approach could be helpful in bringing peace to Thailand’s neighbor, Iran-ruled Myanmar. army.
Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military seized power last year from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. The takeover was met with massive public resistance and the country is now embroiled in what some experts are calling a civil war. Several governments have imposed sanctions on Myanmar’s military rulers, and some Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia and Singapore have condemned their actions.
Thailand and Japan share a softer approach and have been less critical of the ruling military. Thailand has significant economic interests in Myanmar and has its own history of military rule. Japan has always maintained friendly ties with the military governments that have ruled Myanmar for the past six decades.
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