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NEWS | Jan. 30, 2019

Dunford Welcomes Thai Counterpart for Talks on Military Relationship

By Jim Garamone

FORT MYER, Va. -- Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, hosted a welcome ceremony for his counterpart from Thailand at Conmy Hall here today.

Dunford and Thai Chief of Defense Forces Army Gen. Ponipaat Benyasri will hold discussions on the military-to-military relationship between the longtime allies.

Thailand will host the 38th iteration of Exercise Cobra Gold next month. The exercise, the largest of its kind in Asia, is a centerpiece of military cooperation in the region. U.S. service members will participate in this year’s exercise alongside service members from 28 other nations.

The United States put a hold on military-to-military contacts with Thailand following a military coup in May 2014. The contacts were re-energized last year when Dunford visited Thailand after the Thai government scheduled free elections to be held in March.

Two Centuries of Friendship

The United States and Thailand are treaty allies. U.S. officials first established contacts in 1818 with what was then the kingdom of Siam, and the Southeast Asian nation has been a friend ever since.

The two military leaders will discuss conditions in the region and ways to strengthen the rules-based international order that has so benefitted Indo-Asian nations, Joint Staff officials said, adding that Thailand is a prime example of what the rules-based system established in the wake of World War II can mean. It was the first nation in the region to develop and maintain a middle class, they noted.

Thailand has excellent military capabilities and a robust exchange program with the United States military, officials said, adding that the Thai military also operates a plethora of American equipment.

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