Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has apologised to the US for a problem that caused the US space agency to withdraw its request to conduct climate studies from U-tapao military airport in Rayong, says Defence Minister ACM Sukumpol Suwanatat.
Ms Yingluck met President Barack Obama recently in the US and she used the opportunity to apologise for the government's postponement of its decision over the request by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa), ACM Sukumpol said.
Nasa earlier this year asked the government for permission to use U-tapao military airport to conduct climate research, called the Southeast Asia Composition, Cloud, Climate, Coupling Regional Study.
Nasa later scrapped the project after the government failed to approve the project by the June 26 deadline set by the US space agency, due to severe opposition from the Democrat Party and some anti-government groups.
The Nasa climate research project was raised for a parliamentary debate without voting on Tuesday.
ACM Sukumpol said Nasa would conduct the climate research study, which would provide an accurate forecast of weather conditions that would benefit Thailand.
"When the prime minister went to the US and apologised for this issue, someone said it is easier for Nasa to go to the moon than to go to Thailand," ACM Sukumpol said.
US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta will visit Thailand in November before attending the Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM) in Cambodia, ACM Sukumpol said.
He maintained Nasa's climate research would not affect national security. He called on critics not to try to politicise the issue.
Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha said Nasa had yet to resubmit its request for the use of the military airport to conduct the research. He said any cooperation with other countries must be based on equality, trust and mutual benefits.
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- Writer: Wassana Nanuam