The development and modernization of the Royal Thai Armed Forces from counter-insurgency to conventional force during the past two decades has increased the kingdom's ability to play a role in UN peacekeeping. In addition, Thailand's participation in United Nation's peacekeeping missions is an example of the kingdom's increasing role in peace and stability in Southeast Asia. Thailand's willingness to make this commitment indicates the country's foreign policy desire to expand its influence in Asean and the region. Thailand also dispatched 1,500 soldiers to the International Force in East Timor (UNTAET) beginning in September 1999. Several hundred Thai troops remained in Timor until they were withdrawn in 2004.
Thailand is ready to get involved in Afghanistan with more than "sharing her experiences and knowledge in opium cultivation reduction through crop substitution program under the renowned Royal Sponsored Project of His Majesty the King" according to Dr. Surakiart Sathirathai, Minister Of Foreign Affairs.
In September 2002 Thailand announced her readiness to send troops to join the UN peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan. Thailand was also involved in the international coalition against terrorism, and was scheduled to deploy troops to Afghanistan sometime in 2004. The Supreme Commander of the Royal Thai Armed Forces said a contingent of about 100 medical staff and technicians from the army, most of whom would be Thai Muslims, would be deployed to Afghanistan after the issues of equipment and clothing for cold weather operations had been resolved.
On the international stage, Thailand contributed troops and UN force commanders to the international peacekeeping effort in East Timor; in late 2010, it sent naval ships to the anti-piracy task force off the coast of Somalia and troops to the UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur. Thailand has also increased its foreign humanitarian assistance efforts, with most foreign aid going to Laos, but also to other countries such as neighboring Burma (following Cyclone Nargis in 2008) and Haiti (following the January 2010 earthquake). As part of its effort to increase international ties, Thailand has reached out to such regional organizations as the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Thailand has contributed troops to reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. In May 2010 Thailand was chosen to serve on the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for a 3-year term; it completed a 1-year term as UNHRC chair in June 2011.
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