U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta arrived in Thailand on Thursday as part of an Asian tour designed to beef up security ties across the region as a counterweight to China’s rise. A possible reopening of U.S. military contacts with neighbouring Myanmar for the first time since the 1980s is also expected to feature in Panetta’s talks in Bangkok. Panetta’s visit to Bangkok marks the first face-to-face talks between U.S. and Thai defence ministers since 2008. Thai-U.S. military relations have deep roots, dating back to the Korean war, but American officials said the Pentagon wanted to restore a more strategic dialogue to complement lower-level contacts between military units. The United States U.S. suspended military aid to Thailand after a 2006 coup but reinstated the assistance after elections in December 2007. The “rebalance” to the Pacific is fuelled by American worries over China’s growing military might and its tough stance on territorial disputes.AFP