Obama, on Asia trip, first pays visit to Thailand

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US President Barack Obama AP PHOTO

BANGKOK — As President Barack Obama launches a three-day Southeast Asia tour, the White House is hailing alliances with countries such as Thailand as cornerstones of the administration’s enhanced focus on the Asia-Pacific region.

Obama landed in Bangkok Sunday afternoon. His schedule is packed with cultural sightseeing, a royal audience with Thailand’s king and a private meeting with the country’s prime minister, a joint press conference and an official dinner.

But while in Asia, Obama will be dividing his attention and he closely monitors the escalating conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Obama’s in regular contact with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as with Egyptian and Turkish leaders who might have influence on the Hamas leadership.

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