Thai Junta Cool On US Military Request

Thai junta head General Prayuth Chan-ocha shown in a file photo taken during a meeting at the Royal Thai Army headquarters in Bangkok. The Thai military has not responded to a request by the US military to rejoin an annual military exercise. EPA/CHANAT KATANYU/POOL

By Cod Satrusayang, dpa

BANGKOK (DPA) — The Thai military is considering organizing its own military exercises after the United States threatened to exclude Thailand from its annual Asian drills, a senior military source said Monday.

For several years, Thailand has hosted the annual Cobra Gold exercises, Asia's largest, but US officials had suggested moving them to Australia after the Thai military took power in a coup on May 22.

The US had already cancelled Thailand's invitation to a maritime warfare exercise in Hawaii in June and the status of Cobra Gold was reportedly under review.

"We are fully prepared to have our own regional exercise," a senior Thai military official told dpa. "Several countries have already told us they would participate in such an event." 

"The United States must realize that we have countries on this side of the world who understand [the Thai political situation]," the source said.

Thailand's junta said the US was now willing to go ahead with the exercises in Thailand, a military source told The Nation newspaper.

"The US has submitted a letter saying it will resume Cobra Gold jointly with Thailand, but we have not responded to it," the source said.

Thailand has meanwhile been developing its ties with China.

Thailand's acting foreign minister travelled to China over the weekend to strengthen bilateral ties. The talks were described as "productive."  

The junta is also making diplomatic overtures to Latin America, Africa and elsewhere in the developing world to explain the reasons for the coup, and to clarify its roadmap to democracy.