United States Defense Secretary Gen Lloyd Austin has announced plans to visit Thailand to discuss further bilateral cooperation between the two nations, though the exact date has yet to be disclosed.
Observers expect that Gen Austin will want to discuss enhancing the Thai armed forces, as well as weapons and the defense industry.
Gen Austin met with Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha on May 12 during the ASEAN-U.S. Summit.
According to Government Spokesperson Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana, Gen Prayut and Gen Austin initially discussed ways to strengthen bilateral armed forces cooperation, military education and joint military exercises. The two parties hope to forge new alliances to combat cybercrime, increase defense industry cooperation and expand the role of the military in combating illegal fishing and human trafficking.
Thanakorn said Thailand is also supportive of U.S. efforts to highlight its increasing interaction and constructive engagement with countries in the region on the basis of mutual respect and trust.
Additionally, the spokesperson praised U.S. support for ASEAN centrality, a policy that emphasizes strengthening the group’s core values and cooperation in line with the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP).