Carter Meets With Officials in Thailand
By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service
BANGKOK, July 22, 2012 Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter traveled here today for meetings with U.S. and Thai officials.
Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter, right, thanks Thai Air Chief Marshal Sukumpol Suwanatat, Thailand's minister of defense, after meeting in Bangkok, July 22, 2012. Carter is on a ten-day Asia Pacific trip meeting partners in Hawaii, Guam, Japan Thailand, India and South Korea. DOD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Carter’s decision to visit Thailand was based on the importance U.S. government and defense officials place on the two nations’ alliance, and on the need to further strengthen and deepen senior-level engagement, according to a senior official traveling with Carter and speaking on background.
The official said the deputy secretary visited the Thai Ministry of Defense and thanked Air Chief Marshall Sukumpol Suwannathat and other military officials for hosting the multilateral exercise Cobra Gold, which Carter noted during the meeting has been key to enhancing cooperation in the region.
The United States and Thailand began the annual exercise in 1980. The most recent Cobra Gold took place in January and February, and drew Indonesian, Japanese, Malaysian, Singaporean and South Korean military participants.
During his visit, the deputy secretary told Thai officials he welcomes the opportunity to discuss ways to enrich the two nations’ strategic cooperation to meet shared regional challenges, including improving humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities, the official said.
As part of the two countries’ long-standing alliance of around 180 years, the official said Thailand and the United States regularly seek ways to increase their ability to operate together through continued dialogue, exercises and personnel exchanges.
The United States military enjoys a strong operational relationship with the Royal Thai Armed Forces, the official added.
Carter’s Asia-Pacific trip will continue with visits to India and the Republic of Korea.