Myanmar military invited to observe US-Thai exercise

Myanmar military invited to observe US-Thai exercise

Myanmar's military has been invited to observe a major U.S.-Thai military exercise involving other countries, according to Reuters.

The Cobra Gold exercise, which takes place every year, is led by members of the U.S. and Thai militaries and include participants from other Asian militaries.

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Logan told Reuters that Thailand had extended the invitation to Myanmar.

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Logan said Myanmar's military was invited to watch the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief part of the exercise. 

Myanmar's invitation comes as the country faces intense backlash for accusations of ethnic cleansing against the minority Muslim Rohingya population.

An official from the Directorate of Joint Intelligence of the Royal Thai Armed Forces told the news organization that the controversy over the Rohingya was not mentioned when the invitation was delivered. 

“That never came up in the discussions. We separated that issue (the Rohingya). We focus on training, on education, on military cooperation. That is our wish, to have Myanmar involved," the official said.

“That is politics. We are soldiers. This is a military exercise." 

The news comes after the Trump administration on Thursday announced sanctions against Myanmar general Maung Maung Soe, who is accused of ethnic cleansing. 

The move marked the first move against the Southeast Asian nation since it began to democratize during the Obama administration.