American Ambassador to Thailand being welcomed by President Emeritus and President Dr. Bancha Saenghiran at the Jade Room of John XXIII Conference Centre on September 2,2004.
Ambassador Darryl Johnson in a group photo with President Emeritus Dr. Komolmas, President Bancha Saenghiran, Vice Presidents and faculty including American teachers working at AU.
U.S. Ambassador viewing the stained glass paintings in the chapel of St. Louis Marie de Montfort during his visit to Bang Na campus of Assumption University.
U.S. Ambassador bidding farewell to President and Vice Presidents in front of the Cathedral of Learning on September 2.

U.S. Ambassador H.E. Darryl Johnson addressing the administrators and academic community at John XXJIII Conference Centre, Bang Na campus during his visit.

Ambassador Johnson discussing with President Dr. Bancha Saenghiran, Dr. Martin Komolmas, V.P. Professor Dr. Srisakdi Charmonman after giving speech to the academic community.

In response to the special invitation extended by President Dr. Bancha Saenghiran the U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand H.E. Darryl N. Johnson visited the Bang Na campus of Assumption University on September 2,2004. A formal reception and tour of inspection was arranged according to the following program and the administrators, faculty, staff and students of the University are unanimous in their perception that the visit was a huge success and that it will lead to greater understanding and friendship between the peoples of the United States of America and Thailand. We reproduce below the photos of the visit and the important and memorable speech delivered by the Ambassador for record among our archives and for the benefit of our readers.

Program of Visit September 2,2004.
10.00 hrs.
Arrival of H.E. the Ambassador and Lady Johnson at University's VIP Lounge and welcome by University officials and representatives
10.30-11.30 hrs.
Address by His Excellency to the University academic community at John XXIII International Conference Center
11.30-13.00 hrs.
Lunch Reception
13.00-14.00 hrs.
Brief tour of the campus conducted by the President Emeritus and President Bancha Saenghiran of Assumption University


Speech by
Ambassador Darryl N. Johnson

Dr. Martin Komolmas; Brother Bancha Saenghiran; faculty, staff, students, friends:

It is my great pleasure to be here today in the company of so many distinguished members of the scholarly community of this university. Assumption University, better known in this country as ABAC, has earned the reputation of being one of Thailand's top academic institutions over the past few decades - a reputation that reflects the work of those present and those who have gone before. But most of all, it reflects the quality of the work and the contribution to society made by those who have studied here. Ateacher can most accurately be judged by the performance of his or her students; likewise for an institution. I have been impressed during my three years here by the number of senior Thai professional people I have met who speak proudly of their education at Assumption University. I am also certain that many of you in this audience will enhance that reputation even further.

My theme today is: The United States and Thailand - the People Dimension. I emphasize the people dimension because institutions- government, business, academia, NGOs - are made up of people. It is the participants who articulate the goals and define the personality of the institution, and who determine its success.

The Early Years

While the history of this institution goes back more than 100 years to the first schools opened in Thailand by the Brothers of St. Gabriel, the official relationship between the United States and Thailand goes back much further - to the Treaty of Amity and Commerce of 1833. This treaty was negotiated by American and Siamese officials who saw the potential for a trading relationship that would benefit the people of both societies. Later there were exchanges between King Rama IV of Siam and two US Presidents regarding the suitability of introducing elephants to North America. And in the era of colonial advancement in Southeast Asia, King Rama V invited American advisers to help balance the influence of the colonial powers from Europe. But most Americans who came to these shores before 1940 came as missionaries, merchants and / or adventurers. Their numbers were not large but their influence was significant. And nearly all of them contributed to a better understanding between these two countries and societies, so remote from each other in geography and custom.

World War II changed the nature of the relationship in two important respects. First, because Thailand was occupied by the Japanese and its territory was used to attack US and allied forces, the US was compelled to attack Japanese facilities in Thai territory. But secondly, the US supported a small number of brave guerilla fighters who were dedicated to defeating the occupiers and their supporters. Some of these Free Thai warriors, including Privy Counselor and former Foreign Minister Sitthi Sawetsila, are living reminders of this effort. In the early post-War world, the US supported the resumption of Thailand's full sovereignty over its pre-War territories and its admission
to the United Nations-even though some other countries opposed both.

The Strategic Pillars

The years since have seen the maturing of this relationship into a full partnership in all dimensions. We start with a fundamental strategic relationship which has three essential pillars: military, intelligence and law enforcement. We have been treaty allies since 1954, and our troops have seen battle together in Korea and Vietnam. We have also worked together to bring peace to Cambodia, to keep the peace in East Timor, and to try to bring peace and humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan and Iraq. Our troops work effectively together because they train together frequently. We conduct over 40 military training exercises each year, including Cobra Gold, the largest combined force exercise in the Asia-Pacific region. Over 21,000 Thai military officers have received training in the United States over the past 50 years — the largest contingent from any country. These officers occupy many leading positions in today's Royal Thai armed forces.

On the intelligence side, we work toward common goals including the fight against terrorism in this region and elsewhere in the world. Our combined efforts resulted in the capture, just one year ago, of the most wanted man in Southeast Asia, the terrorist Hambali.

On the law enforcement side, we have worked together for many years to reduce and eliminate the scourge of narcotic drug production and trafficking—with major success. But the nature of the problem has changed from opium and heroin to methamphetamines, and the danger to society remains. We jointly run the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Bangkok, providing training and personal connections between professional law enforcement people throughout this region to combat transnational crime and to strengthen the rule of law.

Economic and Humanitarian Ties

Beyond these strategic pillars, we enjoy economic ties that are longstanding and strong The treaty I mentioned earlier was updated in 1968 and still forms the basis for much that we do together in trade and investment. The US is Thailand's leading trade partner and its largest market by far; in recent years Thailand has exported goods worth over $15 billion to the US while importing about $6 billion worth. US private investment in Thailand now totals about $21 billion and is growing. And US firms are outstanding corporate citizens, serving the interests of their employees, the communities where they are located, and the environment we all share. The two sides have recently launched negotiations to conclude a Free Trade Agreement (ETA), which should have the effect of stimulating trade both ways, improving market access and bringing a wider variety and quantity of items at lower cost to consumers in both countries.

Less obvious but equally important are our partnerships in the field of public health. Working together we have made major progress in the research and treatment
of malaria dengue fever and HIV/ AIDS. These are programs of global significance, as demonstrated recently by our cooperative efforts at the recent International Conference on HIV/AIDS in Bangkok. We also work together on programs to assist refugees from neighboring countries, and we work to combat the terrible crime of trafficking in people.

People Working Together

The common element in all of these endeavors - the strategic, the economic and the social or humanitarian - is relationships between people. The successors to those missionaries, merchants and adventurers I mentioned earlier are today's professors and doctors, bankers and investors, officials and tourists. A generation of Thai leaders has enjoyed the benefits of higher education in the United States and other countries that has prepared them for the difficult tasks of managing increasingly complex issues and institutions in this country. And we are proud to have played a role in expanding opportunities for study abroad through the American Field Service program, the Fulbright program and numerous others, official and unofficial. It is my firm belief that higher education is America's most valuable export. You in this room can see the results in the lives of others and of yourselves.

A word about visas: despite what you may have heard, it is not more difficult for a qualified Thai applicant to get a visa to go to the United States to study, to do business, for tourism or for any other legitimate purpose. I am happy to report that the number of visa applicants has increased significantly this year compared with last (by about 20 percent), and that the approval rate remains about 80 percent. Unfortunately, the process takes somewhat longer now because of new rules about interviews, the purpose of which is to keep our people safe from those who would do us harm. Our slogan is, "safe borders, open doors," and we mean both parts.

As we look ahead in the 21st Century, we can draw on the success and the wisdom of our predecessors as we seek to strengthen still further the bonds of friendship and understanding they have built. This is the task I leave with you who are studying in Thailand today, and with your counterparts studying in America. You are a part of the people dimension that will define the US-Thai relationship over the coming many years.

ABAC Today Assumption University, Thailand