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Hello, and welcome everyone to the Third U.S. – Thailand Joint Committee Meeting, our first meeting since the pandemic.

It is great to be able to come together again to evaluate – and celebrate – our science and technology cooperation and plan for an even more ambitious future.

Thank you to the Royal Thai Government, and thank you Associate Professor Pasit, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, and Innovation, for hosting us for this important gathering.

Science is not just science. Although scientists often love science for its own sake, we see it as something more: The innovation and discovery that makes science exciting is what moves society forward, contributes to economic development, improves the lives of ordinary people, and helps address the key challenges of our time.

We also know that openness and collaboration is vital to scientific advancement. This is why the United States has placed a strong emphasis on international scientific cooperation, especially with strong partners like Thailand.

When I visited Thailand to take stock of our partnership last December, I was impressed. I met government and NGO stakeholders who spoke about their work and shared ideas on how to strengthen collaboration. They identified countering wildlife trafficking; air quality issues; illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing; freshwater fish conservation; climate change; and water management as areas of mutual interest where science and technology cooperation can make a difference.

Along with Dr. Pakorn Apaphant [pa-KON A-pa-pant, Executive Director of GISTDA [GIST-DA], I co-chaired an interagency, bilateral workshop on space cooperation and research, and later convened a group of young women scientists to promote increased gender parity in science, technology, engineering, and math fields.

It is clear that we are doing a lot together, and that Thailand is a true partner in advancing our science and technology goals, not only in Thailand, but throughout the region, the world, and even into outer space.

I know how important our partnership is in the context of our broader U.S. foreign policy goals. I lead the Department of State’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs – or OES for short. With our U.S. partner agencies here today, we work on everything from ocean and nature conservation to climate change, global health, space, and emerging technologies. Additionally, we focus on “science diplomacy” with our partners to support international scientific collaboration for global benefit.

Integral to the values of cooperation, innovation, and diplomacy, we promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility across all aspects of our work. Our efforts include advancing opportunities for women in STEM around the world and recognizing the crucial roles women and girls play in environmental protection, science and technology innovation, and the space and energy sectors.

As reflects our strong bilateral relationship, our JCM agenda is broad and deep. Together, we will explore themes of climate change adaptation and mitigation, including the adverse impacts of climate change on human health through a One Health approach. We will also look at infectious and non-infectious diseases, water, agriculture, and energy, and how to best nurture future generations of STEM professionals, academics, and innovators. We have a lot to talk about!

As set out in our visionary Communiqué on Strategic Alliance and Partnership, which Secretary Blinken and Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Don [dawn] signed last year, we have an opportunity to reignite people-to-people ties, reinvigorate our economies, and propel scientific progress forward.

Our two countries are forged by shared history and common values, and anchored by our collective commitment to build resilient, inclusive democracies and advance human rights. We are bound together by our shared commitment to our strategic alliance, with steadfast commitment to the principles of mutual trust, mutual respect, and mutual interest.

This fosters a U.S.-Thai relationship that is deep and enduring. Now, in our 190th year of U.S.-Thai diplomatic relations, the United States looks forward to strengthening the ongoing fruitful cooperation between our two countries as longstanding partners, allies, and friends.

Cooperation between the U.S. and Thailand is not just government-to-government. It is much stronger and deeper than that, reflected by scientific and technical collaborations across business, academia, and civil society.

This creates new opportunities for connection between our countries and our people.

Our strong relations have meant better lives for both Thais and Americans and will continue to make our countries more prosperous and secure. Let me highlight a few examples.

Our cooperation on health issues is longstanding:

The CDC Thailand office is the largest in Asia and since 1980 has collaborated with the Ministry of Public Health to prevent and control HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, influenza, and other infectious diseases.

For over 60 years – 60! – the Armed Forces Research Institute of the Medical Sciences, or AFRIMS [Af-Rims], has partnered with the Royal Thai Army to develop effective and innovative solutions to combat infectious diseases.

USAID, through its Regional Development Mission for Asia in Bangkok, draws on Thai expertise to address transnational health concerns in the region.

The National Institute of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, or NIAID, has a long history of cooperation in biomedical research with Thailand. For example, in 1981, 42 years ago, NIAID awarded one of the first International Collaboration in Infectious Disease Research awards for research in leprosy to the University of Illinois and Chiang Mai University. NIAID remains active here and currently funds more than 30 projects in Thailand.

Additionally, the United States is honored that Thailand has recognized a number of U.S. scientists for their work in medicine and public health. In 2022, three of the four laureates who received the Prince Mahidol [mah-hee-don] Award were U.S. citizens– highlighting the strength of U.S.-Thai health cooperation.

We also work closely with Thailand in Climate Science:

We recognize Thailand’s commitment to tackling the climate crisis, including through your 2022 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) host year. We are building upon Thailand’s leadership on the Bangkok Goals and the Bio-Circular At the Mekong Research Symposium, co-hosted by Thailand’s Mae Fah Luang [may-fah-LOO-ang] University in March, we were able to showcase our Mekong-U.S. Partnership and Global Water Security programs, including the latest cohort of Mekong NexGen Young Scientists, who used the symposium to develop and pitch research proposals on innovative solutions to transboundary challenges.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new Regional Agricultural Innovation Network (RAIN) is helping 30,000 smallholder farmers in Thailand better use climate-smart agricultural technology.

We look forward to additional cooperation in agriculture, including through the Agricultural Innovation Mission for Climate, or AIM4C, a U.S.-led initiative supporting technology for climate-smart agriculture.

Education and exchanges, including in science and technology, are also an important component of our relationship:

United States exchange programs connect Thai youth, students, educators, artists, athletes, and rising leaders to U.S. and ASEAN counterparts, engaging them on priorities ranging from civic engagement to economic sustainability.

Our exchange programs are robust, with more than 5,000 Thai alumni of the Fulbright program, International Visitor Leadership Program, and Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative. The newly established Thailand-United States Alumni Association brings together alumni from across the country to work together on projects that support our mutual goals.

I am proud to be here today, joined by partners from across the U.S. government. The fact that so many of us are here demonstrates the breadth of our relationship and the strong interest across the U.S. government to support and further strengthen it.

What makes our partnership in scientific cooperation so valuable? It’s because the partnership is more than just science alone. It is built on a foundation of mutual respect, trust, integrity, openness, and the core values that we share. Both of our countries want to use science to safeguard these values in a rapidly changing world. And we want to make sure that our cooperation benefits more than simply a select few. We should all be proud of that.

With that, I look forward to all of us sitting down and getting to work. It is up to us to continue on the path laid out by those who have come before us and foster even more cooperation in science and technology.

Thanks once again to our gracious hosts from the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research, and Innovation. I am confident our working groups will produce fruitful deliverables to build a better future based on the values that we share.

U.S. Department of State

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