Thailand coup 'a U turn,' but not a regional threat: Rice
New York - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said last week's military coup in Thailand was "a U turn" and urged coup leaders to get the Southeast Asian state back on the right path "very, very quickly."
"The biggest problem is that in a Southeast Asia that was pretty stable ... it's a U turn," she said in an interview Monday with The Wall Street Journal.
However, Rice said she did not "actually see much problem of contagion," referring to the likelihood that political turmoil in Thailand might affect other countries in the region.
"It's not a good thing," she said in a State Department transcript of the interview, "and we are terribly displeased to have had a military coup.
"They need to get a civilian government and they need to get to elections and get back on a democratic path very, very quickly.
"But I don't think it will have -- at least we don't see -- an impact on the rest of the region," Rice added.
Earlier the US urged military generals who seized power in Thailand to avoid politically-motivated actions, as the junta launched a probe into corruption in the ousted government.
The message came as the military leaders set up a high-powered committee at the weekend to look into the books and tax records of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and his cabinet members and their relatives, with a possibility of seizing any ill-gotten assets.
"Certainly, what we want to see happen as this process moves forward is a quick handover to civilian authorities and that any investigations or other activities that are done again be done in accordance with the law rather than being done for political purposes," deputy State Department spokesman Tom Casey told reporters.The United States is following the situation in Thailand "very closely" and "would not look favorably upon any kind of movement that was politically motivated," he said
"Ultimately, it's through holding the elections that we believe you can return Thailand to a situation where you clearly have a government that represents the will of the people," he said.
"Anything that happens in between that time needs to be done in accordance with Thai law," he added.