Defence Minister leads top Thai brass visiting China

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BANGKOK, April 25 – Thai Defence Minister Air Chief Marshal Sukampon Suwannatat on Wednesday led the country’s armed forces commanders in their first trip to the People’s Republic of China in 15 years.

Accompanying the defence minister on the Wednesday through Saturday (April 25-28) visit are the permanent-secretary for defence, the supreme commander, the army commander-in-chief, the navy chief, the air force chief and senior defence ministry officials.

The three-day official trip is the first time in 15 years that a full Thai military delegation visit China and on occasion that the Thai minister introduce himself to his Chinese counterpart.

Air Chief Marshal Sukampon is scheduled to pay courtesy call on Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping and then hold talks with Chinese Defence Minister Liang Guanglie and Chinese armed forces commanders on cooperation on national security, intelligence and exchange of military-related technology.

The Thai delegation will also observe Chinese armaments and be briefed on China’s Z-9 helicopters.

On Saturday the Thai defence minister and his delegation will visit Qingdao Submarine School to observe submarine technology, especially Type 039 Song Class attack submarines.

In 2007, China offered to sell submarines to Thailand but no decision has yet been made.

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