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Later, at a dinner, Mr. Obama offered a toast, recognizing Thailand has the longest diplomatic ties to the U.S. of any other country in the region and noting how proud he is of several Thai Americans, including Ladda Tammy Duckworth, who defeated Tea Party favorite Rep. Joe Walsh, a Republican from Illinois, in early November and became the first Thai American elected to Congress.

From Bangkok, Mr. Obama was headed to Myanmar, the first president to visit the nation that was controlled for decades by an oppressive autocratic regime. Some human rights groups have criticized his trip there as premature considering the recent escalating ethnic violence that have left hundreds dead and up to 100,000 people displaced in the country.

Mr. Obama told reporters traveling with him that his visit is not an endorsement of the Myanmar government.

“This is an acknowledgment that there’s a process under way inside that country that even a year and a half, two years ago, nobody foresaw,” he said.