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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid