Official says US comments wounded Thailand

BANGKOK - Thailand's deputy foreign minister has conveyed his disapproval to the United States over comments an American diplomat made about the Kingdom's political affairs. 

The Bangkok Post reported that Don Pramudwinai had called U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel's comments "disappointing" during a conversation with the U.S. Charge D'affaires to Bangkok W. Patrick Murphy at the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday. 

"I met with Mr. Murphy to tell him that Thai people are disappointed with the reaction from the U.S.," Pramudwinai told reporters.

"This is a wound that the U.S. inflicted on Thai people. I hope that in the future the U.S. will make proper and constructive comments," he added.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan Ocha had summoned Murphy following Russel's comments at the country’s prestigious Chulalongkorn University on Monday.

Pramudwinai said Murphy was "invited" to the meeting as Bangkok wanted to explain "the facts" of the country's political situation.

Russel -- the top-ranking U.S. official to visit Thailand since the May 22 coup -- told media in Bangkok on Monday that relations with the Southeast Asian country had been "challenged" by the removal of the "democratically elected government."

"We are concerned by the martial law, and we are also particularly concerned that the political process does not seem to represent all elements of Thai society," Russel said.

Martial law was imposed in the country two days prior to the May 22 coup. 

Since then, a military-appointed national reform council has been debating how to transform the Thai political system by limiting the influence of political parties and what form a new constitution should take, which will be enacted before new elections take place in 2016.

"An inclusive process promotes political reconciliation, which in turn is key to long-term stability. That is where our interests lie," said the American diplomat. 

"The alternative -- a narrow, restrictive process -- carries the risk of leaving many Thai citizens feeling that they have been excluded from the political process," he added.

Immediately after the May 22 coup, the U.S. -- along with the European Union -- suspended all high level official visits to Thailand.

Washington also cut its annual military assistance by $4.7 million last year. 

Thailand was also not invited to a large Pacific Rim maritime exercise in 2014, but Washington has said it still plans to hold its annual Thai-U.S. Cobra Gold military exercise in the country in 2015, albeit a scaled down version.

Some critics have said that the official U.S. reaction to the coup was too soft, underscoring that a cancellation of Cobra Gold this year would be a big blow to Thai military prestige.

Copyright © 2015 Anadolu Agency