Tuesday May 8, 1:29 PM
SATTAHIP, Thailand (Reuters) – Thailand and the United States kicked
off their annual “Cobra Gold” war games on Tuesday despite Washington’s
misgivings about September’s military coup, which deposed elected Prime
Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Washington’s decision to suspend $24 million of military aid
because of laws restricting funding to countries that undergo coups had
led to speculation it might cancel the exercises with one of its
strongest southeast Asian allies.
U.S. deputy ambassador Alexander Arvizu made no allusion to the
Sept. 19 putsch in opening remarks for the annual operations, which
also include the Singaporean, Indonesian, and Japanese military.
“For a quarter century, Cobra Gold has been the most visible
symbol of U.S. and Thai military cooperation,” Arvizu said in a
The exercises take place in the province of Chon Buri, east of
Bangkok, where the United States built up a massive military presence
during the Vietnam War.
The event has evolved from an exclusively Thai-U.S. exercise to
include many other countries from the region. Its focus has also
shifted towards humanitarian and disaster relief operations, such as
after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
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