ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Thailand's Army Commander-in-Chief Gen. Anupong Paochinda on Tuesday expressed satisfaction with the United States government's decision to resume military assistance to Thailand, saying it bodes well for bilateral relations of the countries.
Speaking before his departure on a two-day visit to Laos February 5-6, he said he made the trip as it was a tradition to introduce himself and he took the opportunity to discuss the cooperation in military activities and ways to solve the narcotics problem along the two countries common border.
Asked to comment on congratulations given by United States President George W. Bush to Thailand's newly-appointed Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej on the telephone, he said it is an international practice leaders of the countries with sound relations would do with each other.
He said the US government's decision to resume military assistance to Thailand was justified and considered a good move for bilateral relations.
The army chief also brushed aside a threat by the People's Alliance for Democracy to stage a demonstration if it was found that ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is behind the scenes in the formation of the new government.
"It should be considered a normal phenomenal under the democratic system. Everyone has the freedom to express opinions, but the act must neither bother others nor cause any damage," he said.
Gen. Anupong said he believed the situation would not escalate into a confrontation.
He added that the prime minister had not yet invited commanders of the Royal Thai Armed Forces to discuss upon his assumption of the top executive post.
Regarding news reports that the prime minister affirmed that the army chief would remain at his post until the three-year term ends, he said the matter depended on the decision of his superiors.