Burma has asked Thailand to help negotiate with the US to approve its participation in the Thai-US Cobra Gold joint military exercises next year, according to an article in The Bangkok Post on Friday.
The request came as Defence Minister ACM Sukumpol Suwanatat paid a courtesy call on Burmese President Thein Sein, Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services Min Aung Hlaing and Defence Minister Hla Min during his two-day visit to Burma which ended on Thursday.
Gen Min Aung Hlaing expressed concern that Burma had not met certain benchmarks for democracy required by Washington, ACM Sukumpol said. The Burmese general said residents would soon enjoy full democracy, according to ACM Sukumpol.
The defence minister said he was willing to raise the issue with the US military.
The Cobra Gold exercise is an annual multinational combined joint training exercise held throughout the Kingdom of Thailand. It is the largest multilateral exercise in the Asia-Pacific region and offers more than 20 participating countries critical training opportunities to improve interoperability in conducting multinational operations.
Events include a computer-simulated command-post exercise, field training operations and humanitarian and civic-assistance projects that increase the standard of living for the Thai people in surrounding communities. Additionally, senior leaders will meet to share knowledge with one another and build relationships.
Participating nations in Cobra Gold exercises in 2012 included: the U.S., Kingdom of Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and the Republic of Korea. A total of about 10,000 service members from 20 nations are participating in the exercise, which takes place throughout Thailand until Feb 17.
During his visit, ACM Sukumpol said Thailand and Bkurma agreed to cooperate in drug interdiction operations along the border, particularly in information exchange, he said.
Burma has asked Thailand to crack down on the production of methamphetamine precursors to prevent the chemicals from being smuggled into Burma, said ACM Sukumpol.
During his trip, ACM Sukumpol also sought Burma’s support for the opening of three more permanent border checkpoints in Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son and Kanchanaburi provinces to support the future Dawei deep-sea port development project.