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Iran Press TV

Thailand, China in talks over military cooperation: Thai official

Iran Press TV

Wed Dec 21, 2016 9:25AM

A Thai official says his country is negotiating with China to have joint military production facilities set up in Thailand.

In a visit to Beijing last week, Thai Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan held talks with his Chinese counterpart Chang Wanquan about the issue, according to Thai Defense Ministry spokesman Kongcheep Tantravanich.

"The defense minister told his Chinese counterpart that we are interested in setting up facilities to repair and maintain the Chinese equipment we currently have in our arsenal," Kongcheep explained.

"We will also look to their expertise in producing small arms and other security-related equipment like drones," he added.

The spokesman further said that Thai authorities have also held talks with Russia about the production of similar facilities in their country but did not provide details.

The Thai defense minister said last month that Bangkok was due to supply Russia with agricultural products and food in exchange for military and engineering equipment.

Thailand, a United States ally by treaty, has been seeking to expand its military ties with Beijing and Moscow ever since its relationship with Washington turned chilly over a May 2014 military coup in Bangkok.

Thailand said the coup was necessary to end months of unrest, including rampant street protests. The US, however, said that democracy had been harmed and that relations could not return to normal until rule of law was restored. The ruling military junta has promised fresh elections for mid-2017.

The Thai and Chinese air forces held a joint military exercise in 2015 for the first time ever. Thailand also bought tanks from Beijing and signed a multi-billion-dollar contract to buy its first submarines from China in the same year.

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