U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel walks on stage towards his seat before speaking at opening plenary meeting at the 13th Asia Security Summit in Singapore, Saturday, May 31, 2014. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Pool)
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Thailand's coup leaders faced fresh international condemnation Saturday when US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel demanded immediate elections and the release of detainees held by a junta which says there will be no polls for at least a year.Speaking at an Asian security conference in Singapore, the Pentagon chief urged Thailand's military to free scores of people detained under martial law since generals seized power from the civilian government on May 22 .Condemning the kingdom's "retreat from democracy" Hagel said the US had suspended its long-standing military ties with Thailand.Anti-Thaksin demonstrators staged a months-long protest against the government prior to the coup.Some experts believe the military's move is also part of a wider power play spurred by fears over who will lead the nation once the more than six-decade reign of the nation's revered but ailing king ends.
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