Thailand and the United States have launched the largest annual joint military exercise in Southeast Asia but played down the presence of a Burmese military officer.

Burma’s military has been accused of massive human rights violations in its crackdown on the Rohingya Muslim minority, who have fled by the hundreds of thousands to neighbouring Bangladesh.

Thailand US Military ExerciseUS Ambassador to Thailand Glyn T Davies, Thailand’s Chief of Defence Forces Thanchaiyan Srisuwan and Lt Gen Lawrence Nicholson of the US Marine Corps  at the opening ceremony of the joint military exercise Cobra Gold 2018 (Sakchai Lalit/AP)

US Ambassador to Thailand Glyn T Davies told reporters that Burma was not participating in the Cobra Gold exercise in eastern Thailand but did not elaborate.

Thai General Thanchaiyan Srisuwan acknowledged inviting Burma to the opening ceremony at U-tapao airport in Rayong Province.

Thailand US Military ExerciseThailand and the US played down the presence of a Burmese soldier, centre (Sakchai Lalit/AP)

Last week, US politicians demanded Burma’s exclusion from the exercise.

Thailand US Military ExerciseThai soldiers adjust the uniforms of US soldiers before the opening ceremony (Sakchai Lalit/AP)

The US said in a statement that 11,075 service members from 29 countries are participating.

Thailand US Military ExerciseUS and Thai soldiers at the launch of the largest annual joint military exercise in Southeast Asia (Sakchai Lalit/AP)