US pulls out from military exercises in Thailand

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon has canceled ongoing military exercises with Thailand and an upcoming visit by a top Navy official as a result of the military coup in the Southeast Asian country.

"While we have enjoyed a long and productive military-to-military relationship with Thailand, our own democratic principles and U.S. law require us to reconsider U.S. military assistance and engagements," Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said Saturday.

About 700 U.S. troops were participating in the annual naval exercises, which include sailors, marines, ships and aircraft. Kirby said the Pentagon was canceling the June visit of U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Harry Harris to Thailand and is withdrawing the invitation to the commander general of the Royal Thai Armed Forces to visit U.S. Pacific Command in June.

The U.S. urged Thailand's armed forces "to act in the best interests of their fellow citizens by ending this coup and restoring the rule of law and the freedoms assured those citizens through democratic principles," Kirby said.

The State Department said it scrubbed a U.S.-sponsored firearms training program in Thailand for the Royal Thai Police that was to begin Monday. Also canceled was a U.S.-sponsored study trip to the United States, scheduled for June, for some Royal Thai Police officers. The agenda included visits to FBI facilities and meetings with U.S. law enforcement officials.

On Saturday, a State Department official said the U.S. was increasingly concerned about actions of the Thailand military in the days since the coup. "It has dissolved the Senate, detained a number of people, called in some academics and journalists, and continued to restrict the press," deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statement. "We again call on the military to release those detained for political reasons, end restrictions on the media, and move to restore civilian rule and democracy through elections."

Related Headlines

  • Chuck Hagel

    Dempsey hits Islamic militant 'end-of-days' vision

    America's top-ranked military officer says the surging Islamic State group has an "apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision" in the Middle East and cannot be defeated unless ... 

  • Pentagon: 100 US Marines heading to Liberia

    The Pentagon says 100 Marines will go to Liberia on Thursday with helicopters and other transportation to help the military get to locations around the country and help with ... 

  • Day 2 of martial law in Thailand stirs confusion

    Thailand began its second day under martial law Wednesday with little visible military presence on the streets of Bangkok as residents tried to make sense of the dramatic turn ... 

  • Chuck Hagel

    Hagel says nuclear operation has drifted

    Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told naval submariners on Wednesday that the U.S. has let its focus on the military's nuclear responsibilities drift a bit, but two reviews are ...