By WASAMON AUDJARINT
“Both countries are facing non-traditional security threats. Thailand also affirmed its readiness to stress cooperation,” said Deputy Government Spokesperson Lt-General Werachon Sukhondhapatipak, referring to Gardner’s meeting with PM General Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday.
Gardner also visited Deputy PM and Defence Minister General Prawit Wongsuwan, after which he told Thai media that he wished “Asian leaders would discuss cybersecurity issues to develop a mutual law enforcement system”.
Earlier this month, the Asean Ministers Responsible for Information met for a conference in Singapore, where they emphasised the urgency of education and a clear protocol to tackle growing cybersecurity threats. Chairing the US Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific and International Cybersecurity Policy, Gardner is also among the four senators that introduced the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act to the US Congress in April.
The act, serving as the US policy framework in Asia, also addressed the US government’s commitment to the security and defence-related agreements it had signed with Thailand. Prayut also expressed Thailand’s support for the strategy, with its emphasis on free and fair trade and maritime, air and regional connectivity.
Gardner has been in Chiang Mai and Bangkok from Tuesday to this coming Sunday for discussions with Thai top officials. Key issues being discussed include security, trade and investment, combating human trafficking, drugs and wildlife.
As have many US officials visiting Thailand, Gardner expressed a desire for Thailand to return to holding elections and returning to democracy.