ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Thai-US Defence alliance to support ‘enduring US presence' in region
The US, meanwhile, promises to support Thailand's position as a regional leader - including within the Asean and other regional bodies.
The US has moved 60 per cent of its overseas-based troops to the Asia-Pacific and is seeking partners to support its presence in this region. The US is seeking to bolster its presence in the Asia-Pacific as part of US President Barack Obama's "pivot" away from the Middle East to Asia, announced a year ago.
The two countries reaffirmed their close military ties but stopped short of discussing a return of US troops to the Kingdom, which hosted a large US military presence during the Vietnam War.
The document, officially called "2012 Joint Vision Statement for the Thai-US Defence Alliance: A 21st Century Security Partnership", was signed by Defence Minister ACM Sukumpol Suwanatat and US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, who arrived in Thailand yesterday as part of an Asian tour.
The statement mentioned the Thai-US defence alliance over the past five decades, with the Kingdom becoming a major non-Nato ally of the US in 2004.
The alliance, described as "a true 21st century partnership" in the statement, focuses on four areas:
-Partnership for regional security in Southeast Asia,
-Supporting stability in the Asia-Pacific and beyond,
-Bilateral and multilateral inter-operability and readiness, and
-Relationship building, coordination, and collaboration at all levels.
"Thailand's support of US presence in the region enables the stability that would allow the Asia Pacific to prosper under the principles of open and free commerce, a just international order, fidelity to the rule of law, and open access by all to shared maritime, space, and cyber domains," the statement said.
The statement said the partnership addressed a range of challenges, including responding to natural and man-made disasters, confronting transnational threats, contributing to global peacekeeping, and addressing maritime security issues.
The US also promised to support Thai defence modernisation and training requirements, including through the sale of US defence equipment.
Panetta's Asian tour is said to have been designed to beef up security ties across the region as a counterweight to China's rise.
"President Obama has committed the United States to working more closely with our friends and allies in the region, including our engagement through diplomacy, through trade and through stronger military-to-military relations," Panetta said.
Panetta's visit to Bangkok marks the first face-to-face talks between US and Thai defence ministers since 2008, and comes days before President Barack Obama is due in Southeast Asia for a tour of Thailand, Cambodia and Myanmar.
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