updated 9/28/2006 4:18:06 PM ET 2006-09-28T20:18:06

The United States suspended $24 million in military assistance to Thailand on Thursday, invoking laws that bar certain aid programs to governments that have taken power by force.

Affected by the suspension is a $16.3 million program to train and equip Thai forces for counterterrorism operations, $4.1 million for financing of commercial military sales to Thailand and $3.9 million for training and equipping Thai military personnel for multinational peacekeeping operations.

Also suspended was $130,000 for military training unrelated to peacekeeping operations.

U.S. assistance for health programs will continue, including funds to help prevent the spread of AIDS and to prepare for a possible bird flu outbreak.

The announcement of the aid suspension by State Department spokesman Sean McCormack came nine days after the Thai military ousted elected prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in a bloodless coup.

Officials were unable to provide a figure for total U.S. assistance to Thailand, including military, economic and humanitarian aid.

The United States criticized the coup from the outset, calling it “a step backward for democracy.” It also has said that the one-year time frame set by coup leaders for holding elections is too long.

Some U.S. military assistance will continue because it is not sent directly to the Thai government or because it serves a U.S. national interest. One such program is designed to combat development of weapons of mass destruction.

Thailand is a long-standing defense treaty ally of the United States.

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