Soldiers ride military vehicles during a parade to mark the
 70th anniversary of Armed Forces Day in Myanmar's capital
Naypyitaw, March 27, 2015.
US, Thailand invite Myanmar despite ''Ethnic Cleansing'' charge.

WASHINGTON : The Myanmar military, which has been accused of ethnic cleansing against the country's Muslim Rohingya  minority, has been invited back as an-

Observer in a major multinational military exercise next year led by the United States and Thailand.

Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Logan, a Pentagon spokesman, said Thailand had invited Myanmar to take part in the annual Cobra Gold Exercise, which involves thousands of US and Thai military personnel and participants from other Asian countries.

Myanmar had been invited to observe the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief portion of the exercise, Logan said.

A senior officer at the directorate of joint intelligence of the Royal Thai Armed Forces said it was unclear whether Myanmar had accepted the invitation but Thailand was eager for it to join.

Asked why Thailand decided to invite Myanmar despite concerns over the crackdown against the  Rohingya  and whether this issue was part of the deliberations, the official, who declined to named, said :

''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. That is politics. We are soldiers. This is a military exercise.''

Asked whether US military had attempted to pressure Thailand not to invite Myanmar because of the international condemnation of its crackdown, the Pentagon declined to comment.


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