Pentagon cancels military exercise, visits after Thai coup


WASHINGTON DC, USA – The Pentagon said Saturday, May 24, it was canceling an ongoing military exercise and planned visits by officials in the wake of a coup in Thailand.

"While we have enjoyed a long and productive military-to-military relationship with Thailand, our own democratic principles and US law require us to reconsider US military assistance and engagements," spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement.

On Thursday, US Secretary of State John Kerry said there was "no justification" for the coup and that it would have "negative implications" for US relations.

Kerry had called for "early elections that reflect the will of the people," while the Pentagon had said it was reviewing military cooperation with its Southeast Asian ally.

On Friday, May 23, the US suspended a third of its aid to ally Thailand. Washington said it froze $3.5 million in military assistance out of around $10.5 million in total aid to America's oldest treaty-bound ally in Asia.

The US had contacted junta leaders and urged "the immediate restoration of civilian rule, a return to democracy and, obviously, respect for human rights during this period of uncertainty," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters.

The US has also toughened its travel advice, joining Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore in urging its tourists to reconsider travel. The State Department said US government officials had suspended non-essential visits to Thailand until further notice. –