MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The Royal Thai Armed Forces have asked US aircraft and soldiers to leave Phuket after the "Guardian Sea" exercise, rejecting an American request to use the island as a base for an operation to provide assistance to Rohingya migrants, The Bangkok Post daily reports.
The United States wanted to keep its maritime surveillance aircraft in Phuket after the five-day drills ended on Wednesday, the newspaper cited a military source as saying on Saturday.
Phuket could serve as a maritime patrol base for Americans to deliver humanitarian aid to Rohingya, according to the source, but Thai authorities have been irritated over US pressure to resolve local human trafficking problems and have decided to distance the United States from the Rohingya matter.
Hundreds of Rohingya and Bangladesh boatpeople have been taken to secret camps in southern Thailand without detection. According to the Bangkok Post, Thai police are currently searching for 77 human trafficking suspects.