Posted at: 11/18/2012 8:43 AM
Updated at: 11/18/2012 8:44 AM
BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) — President Barack Obama says it is "no accident" that he planned his first foreign trip to Asia after winning re-election.
Speaking at a news conference Sunday in Bangkok, Obama emphasized that the United States is a "Pacific nation." And he says the Asia-Pacific region will be crucial for creating jobs in the U.S. and shaping its security and prosperity.
Thailand is Obama's first stop on a three-day tour of Asia that will also take him to Myanmar and Cambodia. He spoke Sunday during a news conference with Thailand's prime minister.
Obama's praised Thailand for being a supporter of democracy in Myanmar, the once-pariah state that is rapidly reforming. He says he appreciated the Thai prime minister's insights into Myanmar during their meetings Sunday.
Obama: Myanmar trip not an endorsement of govt.
President Barack Obama says his landmark visit to Myanmar is an acknowledgement of the democratic transition underway but not an endorsement of the country's government.
Obama's words were aimed at countering critics who say his trip to the country also known as Burma is premature. While Myanmar has undertaken significant reforms, hundreds of political prisoners are still detained and ethnic violence has displaced more than 100,000 people.
The president says his goal in visiting Myanmar is to highlight the steps the Asian nation still needs to take. He says he also wants to congratulate the people of Myanmar for having "opened the door" to being a country that respects human rights and political freedom.
Obama gets taste of Thailand at Buddhist temple
Leaving behind chants of "Obama, Obama" by adoring crowds on the streets, the president of the United States stepped into the serenity of Thailand's most famous temple compound to marvel at its centerpiece -- a gigantic, gilded statue of a reclining Buddha.
The Temple of Reclining Buddha, formally known as Wat Pho, was the first stop on President Barack Obama's Asian tour that will also take him to Myanmar and Cambodia.
Observing traditional custom, Obama took off his shoes as a saffron-robed monk led him through the 18th century temple's stoned paved compound of multi-colored spires and chapels with hundreds of gilded Buddha images.
But the main attraction is the reclining Buddha statue that at 46 meters (150 feet) long stretches half the length of a football field.
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