Prayut meets CIA's Cohen

Prayut meets CIA's Cohen

Security in Myanmar reportedly on agenda

David Cohen, deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, arrives at Government House in Bangkok on Friday. (Photo: Wassana Nanuam)
David Cohen, deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, arrives at Government House in Bangkok on Friday. (Photo: Wassana Nanuam)

David Cohen, deputy director of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), had a closed-door meeting with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Friday during which they are believed to have touched on a number of topics including the security situation in Myanmar and Thailand's provision of humanitarian aid to the country.

In an unannounced meeting, Gen Prayut sat down for talks with Mr Cohen at Government House at about 9.30am which lasted about 45 minutes, said a source. The media were barred from attending.

Their discussions revolved around regional stability, the situation in Myanmar, and provision of aid to affected parties in the neighbouring country, said the Government House source.

Their discussions also dealt with economic security, areas of Thai-US cooperation and the United States' commitment to support Thailand when it chairs the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum next year, the source said.

"Their talks dealt with politics, the economy and [bilateral] cooperation in general, not about transnational crime or the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership [CPTPP]," the source added.

"When discussing the political situation in Thailand, the Thai side sought more understanding of the local context underpinning the matter, which the US seems to get," said the source.

Mr Cohen is due to visit two more countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) after leaving Thailand, said the source.

Gen Supoj Malaniyom, secretary-general of the National Security Council, later in the day confirmed that Mr Cohen and Gen Prayut met at Government House, but said the focus of the discussion was strengthening security ties between Thailand and other Asean members.

It is normal for a CIA executive to visit Thailand once a year for the sake of information sharing and to boost cooperation between the US agency and its Thai counterpart, he said.

Mr Cohen later had separate meetings with Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon, in charge of the government's security affairs, and Gen Supoj, said the same source.

Gen Prawit later described that meeting as a personal reunion between himself and Mr Cohen, who he has met on numerous occasions. He denied discussing regional security matters as these had already come up with the prime minister.

On Thursday, Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai revealed that he had met with the leader of Myanmar's junta, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, during his visit to the country last Sunday, though he stopped short of providing any details.

The minister's visit drew the public's attention after it was reported by foreign media, with a former Thai ambassador to Kazakhstan and Mozambique, Russ Jalichandra, calling on the government to be more transparent regarding details of diplomatic visits to Myanmar.

Mr Russ urged the ministry to clarify reports claiming that Thailand has donated Covid-19 vaccines to the junta, but Mr Don chose not to address these specific reports.

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