US to Resume Military Aid to Thailand

The United States announced Friday it will resume military and other aid to Thailand as a result of the country's successful election and its formation of a democratically elected government.

Soon after a September 2006 coup that ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, Washington suspended $35 million in funds to Thailand, most of it military aid, invoking laws that bar certain aid to governments that have taken power by force.

Free trade negotiations between the countries also were suspended.

"These sanctions put in place after the coup will be lifted now that Thailand is
about to become a fully restored democratic country," said Michael Turner, a
spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok.

"When the new government is fully in place, then the United States can lift its
sanctions and resume normal relations with Thailand."

A Thai government spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.

New Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, who met briefly Friday with U.S. Ambassador Eric John, is expected to unveil a Cabinet in the next few days. The most powerful ministries _ defense, interior, justice, finance and foreign affairs _ were expected to go to Thaksin's trusted allies, the ex-prime minister's legal adviser Noppadon Pattama told The Associated Press.

Samak's People's Power Party, a new group backed by Thaksin, won the largest number of seats in parliamentary elections last month, the first since the coup. A six-party coalition led by the PPP controls about two-thirds of the 480 seats in the lower house, giving it the right to form a new government.

Samak, a veteran right-wing firebrand who openly says he is a proxy for Thaksin, was appointed prime minister Monday.

The United States, other Western nations and rights groups had criticized the coup as a setback for democracy. Thailand's military accused Thaksin of corruption and abuse of power.

Source: FOXNews.com

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Dec. 31, 2009, 4:58:00 p.m.

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