Japan PM, on first overseas trip, seeks closer ties with Thailand amid tensions with China

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has agreed to strengthen economic and security ties with Thailand during a visit to Southeast Asia aimed at reinforcing alliances amid tensions over China's growing assertiveness.

Abe, making his first overseas trip since taking office, said he and Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra agreed Thursday to work together to solve regional problems, including in East Asia, where he said the strategic environment has changed greatly.

In comments to reporters, the two leaders did not directly mention the South China Sea, where several Southeast Asian countries have territorial disputes with China.

Yingluck said they agreed to cooperate in promoting peace and stability to facilitate economic growth.

Abe's trip is the first official visit by a Japanese prime minister to Thailand in 11 years.