No US base in Thailand: Apirat

Army chief Apirat Kongsompong has denied the US is looking to set up a military base on Thai soil.

Responding to reporters' questions on the issue, Gen Apirat said Thai and US troops have only carried out joint military drills code-named Cobra Gold, which is held annually in Thailand.

Thailand and Singapore have also signed an agreement where Singapore is able to access a military area in Sai Yok district in Kanchanaburi to conduct military training.

This long-standing arrangement is renewed every three years.

He insisted the US did not ask to use Thailand as a place to build a base.

However, Gen Apirat said US troops have left behind some of their military equipment used during exercises in Thailand.

"Don't stir up issues that might create conflict in the region," the army chief said.

Meanwhile, Gen Apirat also defended a two-day visit by a delegation led by US army chief-of-staff James McConville which starts today.

Allaying concerns from many quarters that the delegation may not be subject to health surveillance, the army chief said the delegation will be tested for Covid-19 upon arrival in Thailand. Tests will be performed by doctors and Thai Airways staff.

The delegation will be the first group of foreigners to officially visit Thailand since the country began lifting Covid-19 restrictions in phases.

Gen McConville will meet Gen Apirat and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha today and tomorrow.

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Writer: Gary Boyle
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