1. ITV Report

President Obama kicks starts tour of Asia in Thailand

US President Barack Obama arrives at Don Muang international airport in Bangkok Credit: Reuters/Chaiwat Subprasom

US President Barack Obama has kicked off a three-day tour of Southeast Asia with a visit to Thailand today.

The president will also visit Burma - referred to by the regime as Myanmar - and Cambodia in his first trip abroad since winning a second term.

On his arrival, Mr Obama met with Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej at the Siriraj Hospital in Bangkok.

President Obama speaks with Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej Credit: Reuters

He also made a short visit with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Wat Pho Royal Monastery.

President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visit Wat Pho Royal Monastery in Bangkok Credit: Reuters/Jason Reed
President Obama and Hillary Clinton stand with a monk at the base of the Reclining Buddha Credit: Reuters/Jason Reed

He then attended a welcoming ceremony at the Thai Government House where he met with Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.

US President Barack Obama and Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra at a welcoming ceremony at the Government House in Bangkok. Credit: REUTERS/Sukree Sukplang

Later, Mr Obama was the guest of honour at a state dinner hosted by Mrs Shinawatra.

A toast to US-Thailand relations is made at a state dinner. Credit: Reuters

During the dinner, Mr Obama said: "My visit to Thailand is far too brief, but even in my short stay I've already felt the extraordinary warmth and kindness and hospitality of the people of Thailand."

The Thai PM made a toast to the long-lasting friendship between their two countries.

In response, Mr Obama toasted "to the strength of our alliance".

The next stop on the President's itinerary is a visit to Burma.

Earlier at a news conference, Mr Obama was asked whether his visit to Burma tomorrow was premature, given the country's record on human rights.

He said:

This is not an endorsement of the Burmese government. This is an acknowledgement that there is a process under way inside that country that even two years ago nobody foresaw.

A police officer stands near a graffiti artwork welcoming President Barack Obama in Burma Credit: Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun

Human rights groups have argued that Obama's trip to Myanmar is premature and that, in seeking to find allies in the region, Obama has been less attentive to repressive regimes such as that of Cambodia's longtime Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Obama aides acknowledge that Myanmar can still do better and say Obama will raise US concerns about Cambodia's crackdowns on dissidents and civil society groups in the meeting with Hun Sen.

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