Myanmar has agreed in-principle to participate in joint military exercises with Thailand, a senior Thai armed forces official said on July 13.

“We are ready to conduct military exercises with member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, including Myanmar, as well as with China and India, which have already said they are ready to take part,” the unnamed official was quoted as saying by the English-language Bangkok daily, The Nation, on July 14.

The official had been asked by The Nation about the response from the Thai armed forces to a threat by the United States to withdraw from the annual Cobra Gold military exercises to show disapproval for the military’s seizure of power on May 22.

Thailand and the US began Cobra Gold as bilateral military exercises in 1982 and they have grown to become the largest in the Asia-Pacific Region, with a total of seven participating nations. Myanmar was represented at the exercises earlier this year for the first time as one of about 10 observer nations.

The official said that in the wake of comments by the US that it planned to withdraw from future Cobra Gold exercises the Thai military wanted to consider options for collaborating with countries which have “a better understanding of the situation in Thailand”.

The Thai junta, the National Council for Peace and Order, had categorised countries into three groups based on their stand towards the May 22 coup, The Nation quoted the official as saying.

They were ASEAN countries, which he said supported the NCPO 100 percent; countries that had not expressed a strong stance, with which the council was working to create an understanding and countries that had openly opposed the coup.

The United States, which has a 180-year-old relationship with Thailand, was among the first to publicly oppose the coup, the official told The Nation.

Responding to the Thai official’s comment on military exercises, political commentator U Kyaw Linn Oo told Mizzima on July 14 that the participation of Myanmar’s armed forces in war games with other countries would help it to develop into an advanced military force.

Link: http://www.mizzima.com/mizzima-news/regional/item/11761-myanmar-agrees-to-joint-military-exercises-says-thai-military-source