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

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora