HISTORIC U.S. TIES
The invitation follows a visit this week by a delegation led by Michael Posner, the U.S. State Department’s top human rights official, to Naypyitaw, the capital of Myanmar, also known as Burma. The U.S. team also included Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Vikram Singh and other U.S. military officials.
The talks on the Myanmar side were led by Deputy Minister for Defense Commodore Aung Thaw. Myanmar state media reported that the “two sides held talks on levels and operations of defense institutions of Myanmar and U.S. and exchanged views on future dialogue and bilateral cooperation”.
U.S. officials in Bangkok and Washington declined to comment.
“If there is a decision to move forward with military-to-military operations with Burma, then we are going to be prepared to support that the best we can,” the head of U.S. Pacific Command, Navy Admiral Samuel Locklear, told journalists in Bangkok on Tuesday.
“Nothing has been finalized,” said Thanathip Sawangsan, a spokesman at Thai Defense Ministry. He said a decision would be made at the end of October.
The invitation is another illustration of the Obama administration’s pivot this year from Iraq and Afghanistan to focus national security resources on the Asia-Pacific region.
Cobra Gold takes place in Chon Buri, a province east of Bangkok where the United States built up a massive military presence during the Vietnam War. It began in 1980.
Last year, about 10,000 U.S. military personnel took part, along with about 3,400 Thais. Five other countries participated — Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea. And nine countries sent observers, including China.