News / Asia

US Renews Military Pact With Thailand

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, left, and his Thai counterpart Sukampol Suwannathat shake hands after signing the 2012 Joint Vision Statement for the Thai - US Defense Alliance, Bangkok, November 15, 2012.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, left, and his Thai counterpart Sukampol Suwannathat shake hands after signing the 2012 Joint Vision Statement for the Thai - US Defense Alliance, Bangkok, November 15, 2012.
Ron Corben
The United States and Thailand have renewed long standing military ties with an agreement signed in Bangkok during a stopover by U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on his Asian tour. The new agreement is aimed at strengthening the Thai military’s role in regional and maritime security.
 
The guard of honor greeted Panetta Thursday at the Thai Defense Ministry as the two countries reaffirmed a 50-year-old military agreement dating back to the Vietnam War.
 
Thai Defense Minister Sukampol Suwannathat told reporters the agreement did not create any new initiatives or privileges between the two countries.      
 
Secretary Panetta said the pact was aimed at confronting the new challenges from natural and manmade disasters as well as transnational threats and maritime security issues seen over recent years.
 
“Today the minister and I moved this alliance into the 21st Century by signing a joint vision statement that will help pave the way for even stronger military to military ties as we adapt to the shared threats and challenges that we will face together in this region and in the future,” he said.
 
The agreement covers areas of regional security in Southeast Asia, supporting stability in the Asia Pacific region and enhancing the readiness of joint armed forces operations and a strengthening of the bilateral defense relationship.
 
Panetta said the agreement aimed to boost the Thai military’s role in regional security as well.
 
“As we focus on these areas of cooperation, I want to convey that the United States remains committed to helping the Thai military further develop its already impressive capabilities so that it can assume even greater security responsibilities in this region, particularly in maritime security and in humanitarian relief and in peacekeeping operations,” Panetta said.
 
The 1962 agreement was written at the time of war and political instability in Southeast Asia and as a counter to Communism’s rise of influence. Thailand played a pivotal role during the Vietnam War years, with Thai airbases used to launch U.S. air attacks.
 
The alliance comes as the United States refocuses on Asia and with China’s growing influence in business and military ties with Thailand. Panitan Wattanayagorn, a political scientist at Thailand's Chulalongkorn University, says keeping a balance between the U.S. and China will be a challenge for Thailand.
 
“It is quite challenging for Thailand to make sure that she doesn’t move too much into the U.S. orbit at the same time continue to engage with more activities, especially in the security area, with the Chinese in the years to come. And that has to be kept up in order to make sure that the Chinese don’t feel left out,” Panitan said.
 
Panitan said overall the renewed pact should be “quite positive” for Thailand. China has been invited with the U.S. and Thai forces in the annual military exercises in Thailand known as ‘Cobra Gold’.
 
Analysts say the pact’s renewal also reflects the realities and challenges Thailand is likely to face in the near term with an economy now heavily industrialized and urban, a far cry from the dominant agricultural society of half a century ago.

You May Like

Video Snowstorm Sweeps Northeastern US

'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says; he had warned storm could be one of worst in city history More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid