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US goal to support an ‘effective, stable, democratic government’ in Thailand

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Thailand is in a “delicate phase” after its election last month and the U.S. goal is to support an “effective, stable, democratic government” there, the top U.S. official for the Indo-Pacific region said on Tuesday.

“We’ve watched carefully the election,” White House Indo-Pacific Coordinator Kurt Campbell told the Hudson Institute think tank. “This is a delicate phase in terms of the formation of a government.”

The opposition Move Forward and Pheu Thai parties dominated in last month’s election in Thailand, dealing a resounding defeat of conservative parties backed by a royalist military that has controlled government since a 2014 coup.

They have been seeking to form a coalition government with six other parties, but prime ministerial front-runner Pita Limjaroenrat faces an uphill battle to woo members of an unelected, conservative-leaning Senate to back him in a legislative vote on a prime minister expected by August.

On Tuesday, Pita played down an effort to disqualify him over a stock ownership issue, insisting he violated no rules and that rivals were determined to keep him from the top job.

The United States is seeking to boost ties with allies and partners throughout Asia at it pushes back against China’s expanding power, and Campbell said Washington wanted to sustain a strong bilateral relationship with Thailand, its oldest treaty ally in the region.

“Many companies are invested there; we have strong military programs and engagements with the Thai armed forces,” he said.

“I think it is undeniable that the politics of Thailand have been unstable and complicated,” he said, adding: “I think our goal would be to support an effective, stable, democratic government in Thailand and then work consequentially with it.”

(Reporting by David Brunnstrom; Editing by David Gregorio)

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