SATTAHIP, THAILAND – The highest-ranking U.S. military official to visit Thailand since a 2014 coup urged the country to restore democracy, saying Tuesday that America needs “a strong and stable ally” in Southeast Asia.
Adm. Harry Harris, the head of the U.S. Pacific Command, spoke at the start of the annual Cobra Gold joint military exercises, the largest in the Asia-Pacific region.
The U.S. is vying with an increasingly powerful China for influence in Asia.
“We look forward to Thailand’s reemergence as a flourishing democracy because we need Thailand as a strong and stable ally,” Harris said. “We need Thailand to get back to being the regional and global leader that it always has been.”
Twenty-nine countries, including China, India and Malaysia, are participating in or observing the exercises.