US condemns military coup in Thailand, warns on relations

The US has warned that it was reconsidering military and other engagements with Thailand after a military coup, saying there is no justification for it and democracy should be immediately restored.

PTI| Last Updated: May 23, 2014, 13:37 PM IST

Washington: The US has warned that it was reconsidering military and other engagements with Thailand after a military coup, saying there is no justification for it and democracy should be immediately restored.

"I am disappointed by the decision of the Thai military to suspend the constitution and take control of the government after a long period of political turmoil, and there is no justification for this military coup," Secretary of State John Kerry said, expressing concern over reports that political leaders of the major parties have been detained.

"I am also concerned that media outlets have been shut down. I urge the restoration of civilian government immediately, a return to democracy, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, such as press freedoms. The path forward for Thailand must include early elections that reflect the will of the people," Kerry said.

Later, State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters that the US is reviewing its military and other assistance to the Government of Thailand.

"We`ve taken preliminary steps to suspend military engagement and assistance while we consider the facts on the ground. This is a standard part of the process that would take place. So right now, there?s a comprehensive review of that going on," she said.

The State Department and USAID provide approximately USD 10 million annually in bilateral assistance to Thailand, only a portion of which is assistance to the Thai Government.

Bilateral funding does not include funding from global accounts, which vary, of course, by fiscal year, she added.

Meanwhile, the US Embassy in Thailand issued an emergency message alerting American citizens about the developments.

"It`s something we do on a standard basis. We`re not, at this time, advising American citizens to depart. We urge travelers to consult our website," she said.
In a joint statement, Senators Ben Cardin, Bob Menendez and Patrick Leahy expressed deep disappointment by the coup carried out by the Royal Thai army, which removed Thailand`s democratically elected government.
"This action, along with the imposition of martial law, restrictions on the press and freedom of assembly, and the suspension of the Constitution, will damage our bilateral relationship. We urge all sides to adhere to democratic principles, engage in a sincere and meaningful dialogue, and find a peaceful way forward," the three Senators said.