US Open to Burmese Participation in Cobra Gold

The United States is considering a request from the Thai government to permit a small team of Burmese military officers to attend the next Cobra Gold exercise as observers, said Pentagon Press Secretary George Little. The Thais, in consultation with the United States, will make the decision whether to issue a formal invitation to the Burmese, Little told reporters on Oct. 19. The Burmese team would participate only in the humanitarian assistance and military medical portions of the exercise under a category called “coalition observer liaison teams,” which also includes countries such as China, Russia, and Sri Lanka. Little said the United States is “exploring opportunities to discuss a range of issues” with Burma as the two countries slowly open up relations. Burma has been adopting democratic reform after years of repressive military rule. Cobra Gold, an annual Thai-led multinational gathering, is the largest Asian-based military exercise in which the United States participates. (AFPS report by Jim Garamone)