US suspends one-third of military aid

US suspends one-third of military aid

The United States has suspended one-third of its aid to ally Thailand after a coup and cautioned tourists as international calls mounted for a return to civilian rule.

Moving swiftly a day after the military seized power, Washington said yesterday it froze US$3.5 million (S$4.4 million) in military assistance out of around US$10.5 million in total aid to America's oldest treaty-bound ally in Asia.

The United States contacted junta leaders and urged "the immediate restoration of civilian rule, a return to democracy and, obviously, respect for human rights during this period of uncertainty", State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters.

Washington had warned the Thai military, long a central player in the kingdom, to stay on the sidelines despite years of political upheaval. Secretary of State John Kerry voiced disappointment on Thursday and said the coup had "no justification".

The United States toughened its travel advice, joining Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore in urging its tourists to reconsider travel. The State Department said US government officials had suspended non-essential visits to Thailand until further notice.

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