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 You are in: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice > Former Secretaries of State > Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell > Speeches and Remarks > 2003 > October

Remarks With Thailand Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Surakiart Sathirathai at Signing of Air Cargo Agreement

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Bangkok, Thailand
October 19, 2003

2003/1053

ANNOUNCER: Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, may I announce the beginning of the signing ceremony of the protocol to the Air Transport Agreement between the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand and the Government of the United States of America. The protocol will be signed by the Honorable Colin Powell, Secretary of State of the United States of America, on behalf of the Government of the United States of America and His Excellency Dr. Surakiart Sathirathai, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, on behalf of the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand.

(Applause)

May I invite all of you to join in a toast on this occasion.

(Applause)

Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, the signing ceremony has now come to a close. Thank you.

QUESTION: Would you like to make some remarks?

FOREIGN MINISTER SURAKIART: Well, members of the press, it is a pleasure to sign this very important document between the United States and Thailand on Open Skies for the Air Cargo. This is an issue that will this is a cooperation that will move us forward toward closer economic cooperation and we will help enhance the trade between both countries, both in traded goods and (inaudible) services. And we can also help Thailand to be able export more because there will be no limitation on the frequency of flights coming into Thailand and going out of Thailand to the United States. It will also involve the inter-model transportation, i.e. the transport of the air cargo can also be linked to land transport in Thailand, which will give the United States access to other neighboring countries of Thailand and other countries of the region.

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much, Mr. Minister. I guess this is the second agreement that you and I have signed. You have also signed agreements with other of my Cabinet colleagues, Secretary of Homeland Security, Tom Ridge. And I think all these agreements reflect the closest of our relationship and how much we are able to do together. So thank you for this (inaudible). Thank you.

QUESTION: Secretary Powell, you came to Bangkok intending to put pressure on the countries in the region to take a stronger line on democracy in Burma. What have you been able to achieve on that so far? And Mr. Foreign Minister, on the same subject, as the representative of a country reportedly to become a major non-NATO ally of the United States, how do you respond to US criticism of the countries in this region on this point, on Burma, this criticism that we could do more and should do more.

SECRETARY POWELL: We feel strongly about the situation in Burma and the need for Aung Sang Suu Kyi to be released so that she can participate in a civil society and I have made that point in all the bilateral meetings that I have had so far today and the Minister and I discussed it a few moments ago and I will continue to do so during the course of my meetings here in Bangkok.

FOREIGN MINISTER SURAKIART: Well, we had a good exchange of views on the issue of Myanmar and the position of Thailand is very clear that we support the national reconciliation process in Myanmar. ASEAN has made the united position that we call for the early release of Aung Sang Suu Kyi and that continues to be our position. I think the United States and Thailand share the same objective of wanting to see democracy in Myanmar. On the part of Thailand, there are several ways that we have to work very hard as a neighboring country of two thousand four hundred kilometers of common border. So we have several approaches that we have to do and we exchange views with the United States all the time and we had a very good discussion and exchange of views just before we came down here.

QUESTION: What role does US want ASEAN to play in bringing about democracy in Burma?

SECRETARY POWELL: I think the Minister really just talked to that. ASEAN does have a role to play. This is their neighborhood and I think that all the nations of the world, especially the nations of ASEAN should do everything they can using all the tools at their disposal to push for democracy in Burma. I believe it begins with the release of the leader of the Burmese people, who has been constrained and confined, so that she is able to perform a leading role in moving Burma to democracy. And the Minister and I as he noted had a good conversation about it. There are many approaches one can take and we should follow all the approaches that are available to us to reach the common goal that the Minister just spoke to, her release and the creation of a democratic system in Burma so that it can become part of this 21st century democratizing world. It is a common goal that we have and we are using different tools to try to achieve that goal.



Released on October 19, 2003

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