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Archive for July 21st, 2011

09BANGKOK2405 THAILAND’S MARCHING SEASON: BRAWL NEAR BORDER CONTRASTS WITH PEACEFUL DEMONSTRATION IN BANGKOK

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“226127”,”9/21/2009 11:23″,”09BANGKOK2405″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,

“08BANGKOK3032|09BANGKOK2369|09BANGKOK2386|09BANGKOK983″,

“VZCZCXRO0385

PP RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM

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INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY

RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 1946

RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 7494

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“C O N F I D E N T I A L

SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 002405

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR EAP/MLS, NSC FOR BADER, WALTON

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/21/2019

TAGS: PREL, PGOV, TH

SUBJECT: THAILAND\’S MARCHING SEASON: BRAWL NEAR BORDER

CONTRASTS WITH PEACEFUL DEMONSTRATION IN BANGKOK

 

REF: A. 08 BANGKOK 3032 (POLITICAL CRISIS RETURNS TO THE

STREETS)

B. BANGKOK 983 (THAI PM ABHISIT BRIEFS AMBASSADORS)

C. BANGKOK 2386 (RED SHIRTS PREPARE TO MARCH )

D. BANGKOK 2369 (THAI-CAMBODIAN BORDER DISPUTE)

 

BANGKOK 00002405 001.2 OF 002

 

Classified By: POL Counselor George Kent, reason 1.4 (b,d)

 

1. (SBU) Summary: September 19 proved to be a day of dueling

political rallies in Thailand. The United Front for

Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), aka \”the red-shirt\”

supporters of fugitive former Prime Minister Thaksin

Shinawatra, gathered in Bangkok to mark the third anniversary

of the military coup which removed Thaksin from office. The

rally, which featured a phone-in from the fugitive

billionaire, was peaceful; the crowd dispersed shortly after

midnight. Members of the People\’s Alliance for Democracy

(PAD), aka \”the yellow-shirts,\” marched in Sisaket Province

near the disputed Preah Vihear temple on the Cambodian border

to protest what they see as Cambodian encroachment on Thai

territory. A reported twenty people were injured in clashes

between PAD supporters and local red-sympathetic villagers

before officials negotiated a compromise which allowed PAD

leaders to issue a statement from a hilltop near the Preah

Vihear temple. The main column never reached closer than

three kilometers to the Thai-Cambodian border.

 

2. (C) Comment: In marked contrast to the violent

demonstrations that rattled Thailand from August-December

2008 and March-April 2009 (REF B), security forces in Bangkok

and Sisaket held their lines and prevented protesters from

both the red and yellow camps from reaching their stated

destinations (General Prem\’s residence and the border

hilltop, respectively). While Bangkok braced for possible

trouble from red-shirts that ultimately failed to

materialize, the real action this past weekend took place in

Sisaket, with the first red-yellow direct clashes since late

2008. In addition, elements of the so-called \”blue shirt\”

supporters of coalition party de facto leader Newin Chidchob

played an ambiguous and potentially provocative role, and the

police failed to keep locals and PAD marchers separate, but

the military eventually ensured the PAD march stopped well

short of the border. End summary and comment.

 

ALL QUIET ON THE BANGKOK FRONT…

———————————

 

3. (SBU) The red rally in Bangkok was peaceful as advertised

(REF C). An afternoon rainstorm scattered the early

arrivals, but by 9:00 p.m., when Thaksin addressed the crowd

by videolink, Bangkok police estimated there were about

32,000 people at Sanam Luang. Speeches by Thaksin and other

UDD leaders addressed the usual litany of red-shirt

grievances: the economy was doing worse; the judiciary was

politicized; Prime Minister Abhisit was feckless; and Privy

Council chair Prem was to blame for all of it, often-times

characterized in crude and profane terms. Thaksin again

played coy about his eventual return, concluding: see you in

Thailand, though I don\’t know when.

 

4. (SBU) The rally continued for several hours after Thaksin

spoke, breaking up at around 12:30 a.m. Thanks to concerted

police action to block the streets leading to Prem\’s

residence nearby, the red-shirts did not follow-through on

their previously stated intent to march to Prem\’s home.

 

…BUT A HOT TIME IN SISAKET NEAR PREAH VIHEAR

——————————————— -

 

5. (SBU) In contrast, the PAD march in Sisaket province near

the Preah Vihear temple and Cambodian border turned nasty.

PAD secondary leader Veera Somkwamkid led an estimate 4,000

PAD supporters (note: none wearing yellow; they were clad in

either the black of the self-styled \”Sri Vichaya warriors\” or

the blue of the civilian followers of the Santi Asoke sect,

end note) to demand Cambodia withdraw its presence from the

disputed territory around the Preah Vihear temple site and to

protest Thai government and army inaction in the face of

Cambodian actions.

 

BANGKOK 00002405 002.2 OF 002

 

6. (SBU) Local authorities and up to 2000 red-sympathetic

villagers were in no mood to facilitate the march, however,

and formed a blockade in a town roughly 10 km from Pha Mo I

Daeng hill, the PAD intended destination. At about 1320, the

PAD marchers broke through the police line, and the PAD

marchers and villagers began a rolling brawl which lasted on

and off for three hours. Veera subsequently claimed to us

the local authorities paid the intoxicated villagers 300 baht

each.

 

7. (C) As captured on film and published in the next day\’s

papers, both sides were armed with rudimentary weapons:

sticks, rocks, clubs, machetes, and slingshots — the most

dramatic shot showed a machete-ared villager looking to

slash a barefoot PAD marcer sprawled on his back in a field;

twenty peopl were injured in the melee. XXXXXXXXXXXXXX

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX said that \”blue shirt\” brawlrs

associated with Newin, the political godfathe of Sisaket

province, played a role in sparking he clash, as they

allegedly did in Pattaya with ed-shirts in April (note:

Newin\’s faction was allied with Thaksin and part of the

red-shirt movemet until December. End note). Sisaket

Governor aphi Phongbunphakit, a political ally of Newin,

old us that five of those injuries warranted an ovrnight

stay in the hospital, without specifying to which faction

they belonged. PAD leader Veera nsisted that 15 of those

wounded were PAD supporers.

 

8. (SBU) Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thuasuban authorized

acting National Police Chief Thnee Sombounsap to negotiate

with the PAD on behalf of the government. Thanee

participated via phoe, while Governor Raphi, the second area

army comander and Sisaket deputy police chief, negotiated

face-to-face with Veera and the PAD. Raphi toldus the

resulting agreement permitted a limited group of PAD members

to climb Pha Mo I Daeng hill o Sunday, September 20 to read

the PAD statement.The army steadfastly refused to let the

main PADcolumn get within three kilometers of the border.

The reading of the PAD statement took place without incident

September 21, and the PAD protesters dispersed.

JOHN

Written by thaicables

July 21, 2011 at 5:58 am

09PHNOMPENH664 CAMBODIA’S MINISTER OF DEFENSE PREPARES FOR WASHINGTON

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“223512”,”9/3/2009 10:23″,”09PHNOMPENH664″,

“Embassy Phnom Penh”,

“UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY”,

“09PHNOMPENH638″,”VZCZCXYZ0000

PP RUEHWEB

 

DE RUEHPF #0664/01 2461023

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

P 031023Z SEP 09

FM AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1153

INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

RHHJJPI/PACOM IDHS HONOLULU HI PRIORITY

RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

“,”UNCLAS PHNOM PENH 000664

 

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR EAP/MLS

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PREL, MOPS KTIA, CB

SUBJECT: CAMBODIA\’S MINISTER OF DEFENSE PREPARES FOR

WASHINGTON

 

REF: PHNOM PENH 638

 

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: In a September 3 call on Deputy Prime

Minister and Minister of National Defense Tea Banh, the

Ambassador previewed the Minister\’s upcoming travel to

Washington where he will meet Secretary of Defense Gates,

congratulated the Minister on Cambodia\’s diplomacy with

respect to the dispute over Preah Vihear, highlighted the

continued strengthening of military-to-military relations,

and introduced the new U.S. Embassy Defense Attache. Tea

Banh expressed his commitment to reduce troops and help

settle the Preah Vihear dispute peacefully. He also stressed

the importance of Cambodia\’s upcoming Capstone training event

and detailed peacekeeping operations planned for Chad and the

Central African Republic. The Minister rounded out the

meeting by outlining areas of defense reform and continued

engagement. END SUMMARY.

 

Tensions Subside in Preah Vihear

——————————–

 

2. (SBU) In preparation for his upcoming Washington visit,

which will include a meeting with Secretary of Defense Gates,

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense Tea

Banh provided an overview of areas of mutual interest,

specifically noting the calmed situation in Preah Vihear.

Tea Banh detailed the history of the dispute over Preah

Vihear and recent troop reductions in the border area (Ref

A). He stated that both the Thai and Cambodian sides have

drawn back in order to decrease the potential of further

tension. Declaring that \”there is no longer a worry of

conflict,\” Teah Banh said that some troops would remain to

stand guard and maintain the area as normal, but that a large

number of troops is no longer necessary. He indicated that

he is optimistic about further troop reductions and

redeployments away from Preah Vihear in the future. However,

Tea Banh said that the lower levels within the Thai and

Cambodian armed forces still need to meet in order to avoid

small flare-ups.

 

3. (SBU) Decreased tensions with Thailand have resulted in

small numbers of tourists returning to the Preah Vihear

temple. The Ambassador congratulated the Minister on the

restraint and diplomacy required to get to this point, and

noted the need to fully resolve the military and border

situation in order for Cambodia to take full advantage of the

World Heritage site designation and to increase tourism and

development in a very poor area. Tea Banh responded that

both he and the Thai Minister of Defense will meet to discuss

and find solutions to the border issues in order to create an

open area in Preah Vihear for development, trade and

business. He said that Cambodians are already beginning to

move and build houses along a better-understood border, and

he is optimistic that there will soon be a defined border

with Thailand.

 

Increased Military-to-Military Relations

—————————————–

 

4. (SBU) Both the Ambassador and the Minister praised the

strong and growing military-to-military relations between

Cambodia and the United States. Tea Banh specifically

expressed his appreciation of U.S. assistance with the Global

Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI). He stated that his

office is working closely with the Embassy\’s Defense Attache

office in order to prepare for the July 2010 multilateral

Capstone training exercise, which will showcase Cambodia\’s

increased capacity and expertise. Tea Banh also detailed

current and future peacekeeping assistance, stating that

Cambodia\’s PKO work in Sudan has received positive reports.

When asked about publicized future operations in Chad and the

Central African Republic, Tea Banh indicated that there are

some issues to be worked out before Cambodian peacekeepers

can be deployed. He said that thus far, 40 members of the

Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) have been trained and are

prepared for deployment. However, an RCAF observer went to

Chad and based on his report, it was determined that the

total number of required peacekeepers should be increased

from the originally agreed upon 100 to 200. In order for

this to happen, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must initiate

a new MOU for the increased numbers.

 

The Road Ahead

————–

 

5. (SBU) The upcoming meeting between Minister of National

Defense Tea Banh and Secretary of Defense Gates marks an

 

important step forward for both countries. As further

evidence of the improved and growing military-to-military

relations, the Ambassador introduced the Embassy\’s new

Defense Attache, Col. Mark Gillette, noting that the two

countries have an exchange of attaches for the first time in

some decades. Col. Gillette will escort Tea Banh to

Washington, and both will participate in a portion of the

Defense Strategic Review, supported by DoD, prior to meeting

with Secretary Gates. The Minister stated that based on a

recent bilateral defense dialog held in Hawaii, specific

areas for defense reform and continued U.S. engagement

include maritime security, border security, humanitarian

disaster response, and counterterrorism – an area where the

two countries already have close cooperation. Tea Banh

stated he is proud of what the two countries have

accomplished thus far, and said there remains much work to be

done, with reform a key priority.

 

RODLEY

 

Written by thaicables

July 21, 2011 at 5:56 am

09PHNOMPENH638 CAMBODIA WITHDRAWS TROOPS; STILL WAITS FOR THAI MOVEMENT ON PREAH VIHEAR

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“222705”,”8/28/2009 8:49″,”09PHNOMPENH638″,

“Embassy Phnom Penh”,

“UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY”,””,

“VZCZCXRO3253

OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH

DE RUEHPF #0638 2400849

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

O 280849Z AUG 09

FM AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1126

INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE PRIORITY”,

“UNCLAS PHNOM PENH 000638

 

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR EAP/MLS, P, D

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PREL, MOPS, KTIA, CB

SUBJECT: CAMBODIA WITHDRAWS TROOPS; STILL WAITS FOR THAI

MOVEMENT ON PREAH VIHEAR

 

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. NOT FOR DISSEMINATION ON THE

INTERNET.

 

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC)

sources confirmed a recent reduction in Cambodian troops from

around the disputed Preah Vihear border area, but could not

readily give the full scope or extent of those movements. The

senior RGC border official assigned to the Preah Vihear

dispute noted that Cambodia is \”still waiting\” for the Thai

parliament\’s approval of already agreed communiques marking a

clear path forward for border negotiations, including joint

demining and demarcation, but expressed deep skepticism that

the Thai government would act soon. END SUMMARY.

 

2. (SBU) Following through on a public vow made by Prime

Minister Hun Sen on August 22, senior military leaders from

the Cambodian and Thai armed forces met on August 24 in Phnom

Penh, and declared an end to hostilities on the border. Thai

General Songkitti Jaggabatra announced that \”the border will

not be the cause of any further disputes.\” Cambodian troops

started withdrawing from the Preah Vihear temple area on

August 26. Military officials in Phnom Penh could not yet

confirm how substantial these withdrawals have been, but

field commanders have confirmed the target is a 50 percent

reduction in the Cambodian troop presence. Var Kim Hong,

Senior Minister and Chairman of the Border Committees, told

Pol/Econ Chief that Deputy Prime Minster and Minister of

Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong had raised the Preah Vihear

border dispute with both Thai Prime Minister Abhisit

Vejjajiva (Aug. 4) and Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya

(Aug. 5) during participation in the Cambodian-Thailand Joint

Policy Commission in Bangkok. Hor Namhong \”pushed to have

the Thai parliament agree to the communiques we already

negotiated with the Thai,\” said Var Kim Hong. Commenting

that it is already the end of August, he said the RGC was

\”still waiting.\”

 

3. (SBU) Confirming the Cambodian troop reductions, Var Kim

Hong also noted that Thai soldiers still had not withdrawn

from the small pagoda at the base of the Preah Vihear temple

and thus agreed-upon joint demining and border demarcation in

that area could not commence. Citing a \”negative\” article in

Bangkok\’s English-language daily \”The Nation\” on August 27

which took a stand against the Abhisit government settling

the Preah Vihear dispute, Var Kim Hong expressed skepticism

that the Thai government would honor the agreements made with

his Thai counterpart in the bilateral Joint Border

Commission. Nonetheless, he said, Cambodia would keep

waiting.

 

4. (SBU) Separately, when questioned at the opening ceremony

for a Kampong Speu health center refurbished by U.S. Marines,

on August 27, the Ambassador noted to the local press that

reports of the withdrawal were an encouraging development and

a positive sign that showed the border dispute could be

solved by peaceful means.

 

5. (SBU) COMMENT: The Cambodian troop withdrawals from

Preah Vihear follow the very positive talks between the Thai

and Cambodian commanders in chief in Phnom Penh earlier in

the week. If the Thai military responded with troop

\”re-deployments\” to match, including from sensitive areas in

the disputed territory which they had not occupied before

July 2008, then a first concrete and positive step to resolve

this dispute bilaterally will have been completed, providing

a good basis for further diplomatic progress.

RODLEY

Written by thaicables

July 21, 2011 at 5:54 am

09BANGKOK2187 THAI-CAMBODIAN BORDER DISPUTE: THAI ARMY ASSESSES NO REDUCTION IN CAMBODIAN TROOPS AT PREAH VIHEAR

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“222744”,”8/28/2009 11:23″,”09BANGKOK2187″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,

“VZCZCXRO3380

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INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE

RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING IMMEDIATE 7407

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RHMFISS/CJCS WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE

RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE”,

“C O N F I D E N T I A L BANGKOK 002187

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/28/2019

TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PBTS, TH, CB

SUBJECT: THAI-CAMBODIAN BORDER DISPUTE: THAI ARMY ASSESSES

NO REDUCTION IN CAMBODIAN TROOPS AT PREAH VIHEAR

 

Classified By: Political Counselor George P. Kent, reasons 1.4 (b) and

(d)

 

1. (C) Thai and Cambodian press reports over the past week

indicated that Cambodia would reduce the number of troops in

the Preah Vihear area after Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen

August 22 announced a troop reduction, possibly by much as

fifty percent. Hun Sen\’s announcement preceded a visit by

Thai Chief of Defense Forces General Songkitti Jaggabatara to

Cambodia that included a meeting with Cambodian armed forces

leader Pol Sarouen. Songkitti was reported to have said that

there would be no more problems between Thailand and Cambodia

after his meetings in Phnom Penh.

 

2. (C) At this point it is unclear whether the reduction, if

true, would apply to the number of troops within the temple

grounds (reported to be about 10 on each side), troops

located in the disputed territory, or to the larger numbers

in the vicinity of the disputed territory. While estimates

of troops numbers vary, Colonel Werachon Sukondhapatipak,

Director of the Royal Thai Army\’s Foreign Liaison Division,

had told us earlier that Thailand had 3,000 troops in the

area and that the RTA assessed Cambodia to have approximately

5,000 troops in the vicinity of the disputed territory.

 

3. (C) Colonel Saranyu Viriyavejakul, Aide de Camp to RTA

Commander General Anupong Paochinda, told us late August 28

that the RTA had not observed any troop reduction on the

Cambodian side. Thai Army observations from the disputed

area were that Cambodian troops had shifted positions in and

around the disputed territory, but that there had been no

change in the number of Cambodian troops. Saranyu told us

that the RTA believed that Cambodian statements over the past

week were posturing in regard to a deadline imposed by the

World Heritage Committee for Phnom Penh to institute an

International Coordinating Committee for the Preah Vihear

temple. The original deadline for establishing the Committee

was February 2009 but Cambodia had received an extension.

The RTA believed Phnom Penh would miss the deadline again and

was trying to make public statements of troop withdrawals to

garner support from the international community, Saranyu

said.

JOHN

Written by thaicables

July 21, 2011 at 5:53 am

09BANGKOK1939 AMBASSADOR ENGAGES FM KASIT ON US-THAI RELATIONS, DRPK, BURMA, CAMBODIA, LAO HMONG, VIKTOR BOUT

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“219861”,”8/7/2009 9:18″,”09BANGKOK1939″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,”09BANGKOK1842″,

“VZCZCXRO7195

PP RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM

DE RUEHBK #1939/01 2190918

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

P 070918Z AUG 09

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7816

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY

RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 1784

RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 7300

RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 5653

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 9835

RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI PRIORITY 6840

RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY

RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY”,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 BANGKOK 001939

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR EAP/MLS, NSC FOR BADER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/07/2019

TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PREF, PHUM, BM, TH

SUBJECT: THAILAND: AMBASSADOR ENGAGES FM KASIT ON US-THAI

RELATIONS, DRPK, BURMA, CAMBODIA, LAO HMONG, VIKTOR BOUT

 

REF: BANGKOK 1842

 

BANGKOK 00001939 001.2 OF 004

 

Classified By: Ambassador Eric G. John, reason 1.4 (b,d)

 

1. (C) Summary: Ambassador engaged Thai FM Kasit Piromya

August 6 on U.S.-Thai relations, DRPK and the ARF Chair

Statement, Burma and Aung San Suu Kyi (ASSK), Cambodian

border issues, the Lao Hmong, and Viktor Bout\’s extradition.

Ambassador and Kasit agreed on the need to elevate the nature

of the U.S.-Thai diplomatic-security dialogue to a more

strategic level. Ambassador stressed U.S. displeasure with

the July 23 ARF Chair language on North Korea; Kasit asserted

that ASEAN had intended to keep channels of dialogue to

Pyongyang open while emphasizing to the DPRK that following a

path of confrontation was futile. Kasit characterized

increasing ASEAN pressure on Burma and said that ASEAN could

not move forward absent fundamental change in Burma.

Recently concluded Thai-Cambodian meetings showed progress,

but Kasit said there would need to be a grand package of land

border and off-shore Joint Development Area (JDA) agreements

to overcome bilateral distrust and nationalists in both

countries. Ambassador thanked Kasit for recent increased

access to the Lao Hmong in Phetchabun and pushed for a rapid

change in the status of Hmong held in Nong Khai; Kasit

expressed hope there would be progress in the near future.

Ambassador reiterated U.S. interest in a successful

conclusion in the Viktor Bout extradition case, with a

decision due August 11. End Summary

 

Kasit: Thanks again for S engagement in Phuket

——————————————— -

2. (SBU) FM Kasit once again conveyed a \”profound\” thank you

for Secretary Clinton\’s presence at the ASEAN Regional Forum

(ARF) in Phuket July 22-23. Her participation engendered

good will, elevated the quality of the discussions, and

helped make ARF a success, he said.

 

3. (SBU) Kasit urged quick and substantive follow-up to the

Lower Mekong initiative, and asked for U.S. plans for next

steps, including on the Mississippi-Mekong partnership in

exploring riparian state responsibilities. For his part,

Kasit planned to meet soon with the ESCAP Executive Director,

the ADB, and the World Bank to take stock of possible

programming in the Lower Mekong region, with a focus on

technical cooperation and human resource development.

 

Bilateral Relations – Strategic Dialogue

—————————————-

4. (C) Ambassador and Kasit traded thoughts on implementing

the promise of an enhanced strategic dialogue discussed by

Kasit and the Secretary during Kasit\’s April visit to

Washington. Ambassador emphasized the need to switch from

the transactional approach of the past several years to a

more strategic partnership. Kasit agreed, reiterating his

views shared with the Secretary, Deputy Secretary Steinberg,

and S/P director Slaughter in April: Thailand for the past

eight-ten years has been reactive to piecemeal U.S. requests

(\”send troops to Afghanistan and Iraq, give us access to

Utapao\”), rather than being a partner in discussing policy

together. That was his goal, even if Thailand only rose to a

\”junior\” strategic partner.

 

5. (C) If the U.S. were to explain its overall approach to

the Asia-Pacific region for the future, Kasit continued,

Thailand\’s role as an ally in advancing a shared agenda of

promoting peace and stability in the region could flow

naturally. Cooperative efforts in disaster relief

management, upgrading civil-military capacity, peacekeeping

in a UN/regional context, and capacity-building in countries

like Cambodia-Laos-Vietnam, and eventually Burma, were all

prospective topics to be discussed in his view. Ambassador

added that the Thai position in ASEAN, the relationships with

China and India, and a socio-cultural component including

educational exchanges should also be part of the agenda; late

October/early November might be appropriate timing.

 

6. (SBU) Kasit mentioned that PM Abhisit planned to attend

the UN General Assembly in September. Abhisit would seek

business meetings in New York, and plan to engage Congress in

 

BANGKOK 00001939 002.2 OF 004

 

Washington, even if executive branch meetings proved too

difficult to arrange.

 

7. (C) Referencing his conversation with NSA GEN Jones in

April, Kasit passed a list of equipment the Thai military

hoped might be available via Excess Defense Articles (EDA) or

other military assistance mechanisms as the U.S. drew down in

Iraq. Most of the current Thai armored unit equipment was

30-40 years old, Kasit noted, making it difficult to stay

interoperable with the U.S. Ambassador agreed to pass the

equipment list via our Military Assistance Group but

suggested equipment requests would best be discussed in

context of Thailand\’s strategic needs as part of a broader,

deeper political-military strategic dialogue component.

Kasit acknowledged this point, and agreed with Ambassador on

the utility of closer collaboration between Foreign and

Defense officials in both countries as part of the strategic

dialogue. Kasit noted he met or spoke with Defense Minister

Prawit weekly.

 

ARF Statement\’s DPRK language

—————————–

8. (C) Kasit raised his July 31 telcon with Deputy Secretary

Steinberg on the ARF statement\’s language on North Korea. He

said China had pushed Thailand hard to give the DPRK room and

to avoid language that would cause the North Koreans to walk

away and possibly never come back to the ARF or the Six Party

process. The Thai and ASEAN also believed a quiet and soft

approach was the order of the day. Kasit had told the DPRK

head of Del in Phuket, Ambassador Pak Kun-gwang, that North

Korea could not continue on its current confrontational path;

firing rockets and testing nuclear weapons would get it

nowhere. The outside world was prepared to provide

assistance if it adopted a different approach; confrontation

was futile. Kasit felt that the North Korean delegation left

Phuket understanding their obligations, that the channel of

dialogue had remained open, with the expectation that the

North Koreans should return to the Six Party Talks.

 

9. (C) Kasit and the Chinese FM had a long discussion about

this issue in Phuket; China would be working hard behind the

scenes to bring the DPRK back to the Six Party table. Kasit

had thought about going to Pyongyang as ASEAN Chair to

facilitate progress; the Thais had been in a dialogue with

Pyongyang for 5-6 months, with Vice Ministers Panich having

traveled to Pyongyang to try to secure high level attendance

at the ARF, and Kasit raising it on the margins of the

mid-July Sharm-el-Sheik NAM meetings.

 

10. (C) Ambassador emphasized there remained significant

disagreement over the ARF statement, and Secretary Clinton

had asked that he convey her disappointment with the

language. The July 2- AMM communiqu language on the Korean

Peninsula was good, the July 23 ARF statement not so

(reftel). While we understood the Thai position that China

and Russia had come to the Thai claiming they did not want to

be associated with the language, the fact remained that there

had been agreement among representatives of the five

countries on the language. Furthermore, when the Secretary

and Kasit had met, Permsec Virasak had characterized the

state of play on DPRK language very differently, suggesting

the DPRK wanted a call on all parties to exercise restraint,

and that the DPRK was willing to engage in dialogue. The

final language was much different, was imbalanced, and

suggested an equivalence between the two positions – near

consensus of ARF vs. DPRK propaganda, which was substantively

wrong, and procedurally had been handled poorly. Ambassador

urged that the RTG consult more closely with the U.S. on this

issue in the future.

 

11. (C) Kasit acknowledged that the Thai were fully aware of

the possible consequences of the statement as issued, but he

reiterated his view of the importance of keeping open the

channel. By accommodating them \”a bit\” on language, it kept

the DPRK in play, with no other direction to turn but to

re-engage in talks. \”This is a process,\” and ASEAN felt it

had a role to help push the parties in the right direction.

Russia and China now had to deliver on their end of the

bargain. Kasit expressed hope the release of the two U.S.

 

BANGKOK 00001939 003.2 OF 004

 

journalists on former President Clinton\’s visit to Pyongyang

would provide positive momentum to substantive negotiations

as well.

 

Burma and impact on ASEAN

————————-

12. (C) Kasit reconfirmed that PM Abhisit\’s visit to Burma

had been postponed to avoid potentially coinciding with the

expected verdict in Aung San Suu Kyi\’s (ASSK) trial. Kasit

predicted that the Burmese would sentence ASSK to three

years, but \”whatever it is, it will be unacceptable.\” After

constant pushing in recent months at a series of ASEAN

meetings, most recently in Phuket, Kasit asserted the Burmese

knew well the damage they would do to themselves and to ASEAN

with a conviction. ASEAN countries are consistently harping

on the \”centrality of ASEAN\” in regional architecture but

ASEAN must earn its role, in Kasit\’s view. Without

fundamental change in Burma, ASEAN would have no credibility,

and would not be able to advance further as a community,

Kasit stated.

 

13. (C) Kasit said that he would travel to Indonesia and

Malaysia in the near future to consult about the way forward.

He predicted various ASEAN states would complain separately

in the aftermath of an ASSK conviction. Thailand would seek

to ally with \”old ASEAN\” members to push a more forceful

line. He and Singapore FM George Yeoh had repeatedly pushed

their Burmese FM counterpart to convey the views of ASEAN,

and the need for change, fully to Than Shwe. The recent

visit of Singapore Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong to Burma to

hammer home ASEAN concerns was also important; \”there needs

to be more of such regional pressure.\” For his part, Kasit

planned to suggest to the Burmese FM in their next discussion

that if the regime were to convict ASSK, they pardon her

immediately.

 

14. (C) The Burmese had asked Kasit to facilitate another

round of talks with the Karen, Kasit revealed. Kasit had not

yet set a place and date, but his message to Karen National

Union (KNU) leaders would be: go negotiate. The KNU had no

chance whatsoever at a military victory; their situation only

worsened with constant pressure by the Burmese Army and Karen

DKBA proxies. Kasit felt the KNU\’s best option was to

negotiate a deal, and then coordinate with the other cease

fire groups with similar interests. Kasit personally

believed Burma should be configured as a federation, not a

union. The military would of course \”cheat\” and dominate the

lower house of any parliament, but the states could have

representation in an Upper House, and a process of

self-cleansing of the system could begin.

 

15. (C) Ambassador thanked Kasit for the rapid Thai reaction

to the influx of new Karen refugees in June. Kasit said that

he had pushed the Burmese FM to create a safe area in Karen

state to which the new arrivals could return without

guaranteed harrassment from the Burmese army.

 

Cambodia – border negotiations and JDAs

—————————————

16. (C) Kasit characterized the August 4-5 meetings of the

Thai-Cambodian Joint Committee, and the visit of Cambodian

DPM and FM Hor Namhong, as successful. He asked Hor Namhong

to tell the Cambodian media that Cambodian-Thai relations

were actually much smoother that the press indicated. The

Thai were financing roughly 80 technical assistance and

development projets, drawing on soft loans and the resources

of the Ministry of Finance and several other ministries. Hor

Namhong suggested the Thai invite the Cambodian Minister of

Information for a visit, identifying him as a one of the key

officials stoking a more confrontational public line.

 

17. (C) While border issues were not directly discussed,

Kasit said that both sides are aware of the rough parameters

of what each side could accept, and not; there would need to

be give and take on disputed areas and jointly developing

areas (JDAs) off-shore in the Gulf. The promise of peace and

mutually economic gain should eventually win the day, in

Kasit\’s view. In the meantime, fixing the location of

boundary stone 73 (note: near the coastline), and agreeing on

 

BANGKOK 00001939 004.2 OF 004

 

the watershed definition of six points near Preah Vihear,

would pose the chief challenges. Thai DPM Suthep and

Cambodia\’s Sok An had led the JDA discussions, coming close

to an agreement in principle, but the maritime deal would

need to be packaged together with a deal on the disputed land

areas near Preah Vihear. This would be necessary due to the

elements of distrust in the relationship, as well as

nationalists in both countries who would oppose any

compromise. Leaders in both countries would have to be

brave, and explain the pluses and minuses to a packaged deal.

 

18. (C) Kasit said that he had passed critical comments to

Total over the recent announcement of a provisional deal for

exploration rights in the disputed Gulf areas and would file

a note of protest to the Cambodians. In the end, any

unilateral concessions for exploration would not go forward,

and would be superceded by whatever JDA agreement emerged,

just as had happened in the late 1990s when Thailand and

Malaysia reached a similar JDA agreement.

 

Lao Hmong

———

19. (C) Ambassador thanked Kasit for PM Abhisit\’s assurances

to the Secretary that there would be no forced repatriation

of the Lao Hmong in Phetchabun. Referencing recent moves by

the Thai military to provide more access to the Phetchabun

camp and the first meaningful U.S. participation in

discussions about the Lao Hmong August 7, Ambassador also

pushed Kasit for a quick resolution of the 158 Hmong in the

Nong Khai detention center, perhaps allowing them to return

to relatives in Lopburi. Kasit said that he was trying to

bring the Ministry of Social Welfare into the picture to

improve the situation at Nong Khai. If the discussions at

Phetchaburi went well, he hoped there would be forward

progress. Kasit said he had underscored the need for humane,

humanitarian treatment of the Hmong to his military

counterparts.

 

Viktor Bout

———–

20. (C) Ambassador reiterated the Secretary\’s message to PM

Abhisit and FM Kasit on the importance we placed on a

successful conclusion to the Viktor Bout extradition case,

with the judge\’s decision expected August 11. The U.S.

continued to be concerned about ongoing Russian efforts to

influence the decision. Kasit said he understood and agreed.

JOHN

Written by thaicables

July 21, 2011 at 5:52 am

08BANGKOK1933 THE PARLIAMENT’S TURN – NO CONFIDENCE DEBATE SCHEDULED

leave a comment »

“159242”,”6/23/2008 11:02″,”08BANGKOK1933″,

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SUBJECT: THE PARLIAMENT\’S TURN – NO CONFIDENCE DEBATE

SCHEDULED

 

REF: BANGKOK 1917 (ANTI-GOVERNMENT DEMONSTRATORS)

 

Classified By: A/DCM Anne Casper, reason 1.4 (b) and (d).

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: While peaceful demonstrators continue to

surround Government House, the government has agreed to send

the affected ministers to participate in the no-confidence

debate requested by the opposition Democrat Party on June

24-25, and to appear before the Senate to answer questions on

June 23. The Democrats have little expectation that the

no-confidence motion will pass, but in the wake of weeks of

street demonstrations, they want to bring the political

process back to the Parliament. It is not clear how the

demonstrators will respond to the no-confidence vote. It is

possible that further concessions by the government –

particularly pledges not to interfere in the court cases

against former PM Thaksin — could be enough to end the

demonstrations. However, a PAD supporter told us that the

protests might also escalate, if the demonstrators viewed the

Parliament\’s action as ineffectual. The government will take

a pounding from the Parliament this week, but it still

appears to have the votes to weather the no confidence

debate. END SUMMARY.

 

2. (C) With the People\’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD)

demonstration surrounding the Government House and calling

for the PM\’s resignation, the government agreed to put the

opposition request for a no-confidence debate on the

Parliament\’s schedule for this week. The government also

agreed to accede to the request by a group of senators who

wanted to debate the government\’s performance. The Senate

action is taking place on Monday, June 23, while the

no-confidence debate in the lower house will be held on

Tuesday and Wednesday.

 

3. (C) The Democrats — the sole opposition party — say that

there is little expectation that the government coalition

will crack as a result of the no-confidence debate or the

current level of protests. The party\’s Secretary-General

told us on Friday that there was no coordination between the

Democrats and the PAD about the timing of the motion, which

he did not expect to pass. Former Ambassador to the US

Kasit, who is both a Democrat party advisor and a frequent

speaker at PAD rallies, told us much the same thing today.

He did add that the strong emotions evoked by the

Thai-Cambodian negotiations over the inscription of the

ancient Khmer Preah Vihear temple could sway some of the

coalition parties and even some of the ruling People\’s Power

Party (PPP) MPs, particularly those from the Northeastern

provinces close to the temple. Amb. Kasit said, as had the

Party\’s SecGen, that the Democrats did not want to bring down

the government of PM Samak. In fact, as the Dems are broke,

they really do not want to face new elections too soon.

 

4. (C) The Democrats, according to Kasit, are holding the

debate because they want to bring the political process back

into the Parliament. The Democrats and the PAD share some

goals, but differ widely on tactics; the PAD reflects the

views of much of Thai civil society in disdaining and

distrusting political parties and politicians. Kasit was

unsure how the PAD would respond if the no-confidence motion

failed and PM Samak continued to resist stepping down. On

the one hand, the PAD leaders might agree to end their

demonstration if the government agreed to certain conditions,

including a promise not to interfere with the judicial

process in any of the cases against former PM Thaksin, a

pledge not to harass or transfer officials who had cooperated

with the post-coup government on those investigations, and

agreement to drop support for inscribing the Preah Vihear

site, at least without significant modifications to the

agreement with Cambodia. On the other hand, Kasit was

concerned that the failure of the no-confidence motion would

only confirm in the mind of the PAD leaders that the

Parliament was largely irrelevant to the political process,

and encourage PAD to escalate their protests. One possible

next step would be for the state-owned enterprise leaders to

make good on their threat to start cutting water and

electrical service to some areas. Kasit said some union

leaders had met with him and told him they were prepared to

take that step.

 

COMMENT

——-

 

5. (C) The government has probably made the right call in

permitting the debates in the Parliament, but we will see how

 

BANGKOK 00001933 002 OF 002

 

the excitable PM Samak handles the grilling he and his

ministers are likely to receive. There is a lot of buzz

about the possible resignation of the PM, but the governing

coalition still has more than enough seats to weather the

no-confidence vote. Samak is embattled, but not defeated.

 

JOHN

Written by thaicables

July 21, 2011 at 5:49 am

09BANGKOK1901 THAILAND SCENESETTER FOR SENATOR WEBB’S VISIT

leave a comment »

“219534”,”8/5/2009 10:22″,”09BANGKOK1901″,

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SUBJECT: THAILAND SCENESETTER FOR SENATOR WEBB’S VISIT

 

BANGKOK 00001901 001.2 OF 004

 

1. (SBU) Senator Webb, Embassy Bangkok looks forward to

welcoming you back to Thailand. Your visit will afford a

chance to express the United States’ commitment for

Thailand’s democracy in meeting its current challenges and

emerging strengthened, as well as to engage Thai officials

and others on the U.S. foreign policy agenda in Asia,

particularly challenges like Burma and North Korea. It is

also an opportunity to underscore our appreciation for the

long-standing bilateral relationship, which has facilitated

shared benefits in the fields of security, law enforcement,

and intelligence efforts, as well as groundbreaking

health/research collaboration and long-standing refugee

support.

 

CALM IN THE KINGDOM, BUT FOR HOW LONG?

————————————–

 

2. (SBU) Nearly eight months after your last visit, which

came in the immediate wake of the late 2008 airport takeover

and change in government, the political scene on the surface

has calmed considerably, but it is likely the calm of the eye

of a still churning storm. Thailand remains deeply divided,

politically and socially, and struggles to break free of an

inward focus. The traditional elite, urban middle class and

the mid-south are on largely one side (Democrat in

parliament, “yellow” in the street) and the political allies

of Thaksin, with largely rural supporters in the North and

Northeast on the other (opposition Puea Thai in parliament,

“red” in the street).

 

3. (SBU) Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva is a photogenic,

eloquent 44-year old Oxford graduate who generally has

progressive instincts about basic freedoms, social

inequities, policy towards Burma, and how to address the

troubled deep South, afflicted by a grinding

ethno-nationalist Muslim-Malay separatist insurgency.

Whether Abhisit can deliver on change is another matter.

Although he has performed well, holding his government

together and restoring stability in the face of significant

political pressure is a persistent challenge. He is beset

with a fractious coalition, as well as a resurgent post-2006

coup military. His Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya is a

capable strategic thinker, but Kasit is controversial due to

his 2008 affiliation with the yellow-shirt People’s Alliance

for Democracy (PAD) movement. Kasit recently had to answer a

court summons regarding the 2008 PAD takeover of Bangkok’s

airports, leading to calls that he step down.

 

4. (SBU) Since your last visit, the most dramatic political

development was the mid-April red-shirt riots in Bangkok and

Pattaya. The United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship

(UDD), disrupted a regional Asian Summit and burned busses in

Bangkok, leading to two deaths, after ex-PM Thaksin, now a

fugitive abroad in the wake of an abuse of power conviction,

called for a revolution to bring him home. The opposition

Puea Thai Party and red-shirt movement will continue to seek

to drive Abhisit from office, call for changes to the

constitution which ban Thaksin’s cronies from participating

in politics, and demand the amnesty for the former Prime

Minister, who was convicted in a 2008 abuse of power case.

The latest red-shirt move is to appeal to the King for a

pardon for Thaksin, a not so subtle effort to drag a monarchy

which is supposed to be above politics into the political

fray; after several months of quiet after the April riots,

the red-shirts have resumed weekly rallies. The PAD

yellow-shirt movement has indicated it will oppose all of

these UDD initiatives.

 

5. (SBU) Both major parties in Thai politics are favorable

towards the U.S.; in fact, there are no radical, non-middle

of the road parties represented in the Thai parliament. On

the street, while both yellow and red try to lay exclusive

claim to the mantle of democracy, neither side of this split

is as democratic as it claims to be. Both movements reflect

deep social concerns stemming from widespread perceptions of

a lack of social and economic justice in Thailand, but both

seek to triumph in competing for traditional Thai

hierarchical power relationships. New elections would not

appear to be a viable solution to political divide, and

political discord could very well persist for years. We

continue to stress to Thai interlocutors the need for all

parties to avoid violence and respect democratic norms within

the framework of the constitution Qd rule of law, as well as

our support for long-time friend Thailand to work through its

 

BANGKOK 00001901 002.2 OF 004

 

current difficulties and emerge as a more participatory

democracy.

 

6. (SBU) Linked to the political uncertainty in Bangkok is

the RTG’s inability to resolve an ethno-nationalist Malay

Muslim insurgency in southern Thailand which has claimed an

estimated 3,500 lives since 2004. The fundamental issues of

justice and ethnic identity driving the violence are not

unique to southern Thailand, and ending the insurgency will

require the government to deal with these issues on a

national level – which the on-going political instability in

Bangkok has, to this point, prevented. In the mean time, the

insurgents use IEDs, assassinations, and beheadings to

challenge the control of the Thai state in the deep South.

The government has responded through special security laws

which give security forces expanded power to search and

detain people.

 

7. (SBU) Underlying the political tension in Bangkok is the

future of the monarchy. On the throne for 62 years, the

U.S.-born King Bhumibol is Thailand’s most prestigious

figure, with influence far beyond his constitutional mandate.

Many actors are jockeying for position to shape the expected

transition period Thailand during royal succession after the

eventual passing of the King, who is currently in poor health

and rarely seen in public anymore.

 

THAI FOREIGN POLICY

——————-

 

8. (SBU) If there is one area of policy difference between

Thai political parties affecting U.S. interests, it may well

be certain elements of foreign policy. PM Abhisit and FM

Kasit have stated that Thailand’s foreign policy should

reflect that it is a democracy, rather than being reduced to

mere commercial interests of cabinet members, as they claim

pro-Thaksin governments did.

 

9. (SBU) Thailand’s Burma policy has shifted noticeably since

Abhisit/Kasit came to office last December. Abhisit and

Kasit met with Burmese activists, exiles, and 1990 MPs elect

in March on the margins of an ASEAN summit, the first such

engagement since 2000, pre-Thaksin. As the Chair of ASEAN,

Thailand released a May 18 ASEAN Chairman’s Statement

reminding the Burmese regime that ASEAN Leaders have called

for the immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi (ASSK) and that

Thailand, as the ASEAN Chair, was gravely concerned about

recent developments relating to ASSK. The ASEAN and ASEAN

Regional Forum (ARF) Ministerial statements issued in Phuket

by Kasit in late July adopted a similar tone.

 

10. (SBU) Border tensions with Burma have increased since

June as approximately 3,000 Karen have entered Thailand. The

refugee influx resulted from a Burmese Army and Democratic

Karen Buddhist Army offensive against the Karen National

Union. FM Kasit has directed the MFA to work closely with

NGOs to address the refugees’ needs while in Thailand and to

ensure they return home voluntarily.

 

11. (SBU) Relations with Cambodia continue to be volatile,

primarily due to a border dispute centered on 4.6 square

kilometers of overlapping territorial claims adjacent to the

Preah Vihear temple. While Thailand and France in 1904-8

agreed in principle on the Thai-Cambodian border, ownership

of Preah Vihear was not decided until 1962 when the

International Court of Justice ruled in favor of Cambodia.

Tensions spiked in mid-2008 when the pro-Thaksin Thai

government in power at that time supported Cambodia’s

application to UNESCO for the unilateral listing of the

temple as a world heritage site. The decision was seized by

the opposition in order to attack the government. Periodic

clashes between the two sides’ militaries since then have

resulted in the deaths of at least seven Thai soldiers. We

continue to stress to the Thai interlocutors that the dispute

should be resolved peacefully and bilaterally.

 

12. (SBU) The rise of China, and the perceived absence of a

focused U.S. presence in the region in recent years, is

another strategic issue of concern to Thailand and the

region. Thailand does not seek to choose between the U.S.

and China, rather preferring to have good relations with both

and hoping the U.S. strengthens engagement in the region.

There was universal praise for Secretary Clinton’s

ARF-related visit to Thailand in late July, including U.S.

 

BANGKOK 00001901 003.2 OF 004

 

accession to the Southeast Asian Treaty of Amity and

Cooperation (TAC) and the holding of a U.S.-Lower Mekong

Ministerial that underscored Secretary Clinton’s comment

that: “The U.S. is back in Asia.” That said, Thailand

continues to develop closer relations with China. The Thai

military employs a range of Chinese weapons systems, and Thai

and Chinese special forces have in recent years conducted

joint exercises.

 

ENDURING, PRODUCTIVE BILATERAL ALLIANCE

—————————————

 

13. (SBU) As one of five U.S. treaty allies in Asia and

straddling a major force projection air/sea corridor,

Thailand is crucial to U.S. security interests well beyond

Southeast Asia. Our bilateral military relationship provides

distinctive force projection opportunities from Thai military

facilities amid vital sea and air lanes that support combat

and humanitarian assistance missions, and the opportunity to

conduct live fire training exercises, both bilateral and

multilateral, that are impossible to match elsewhere in Asia.

The COBRA GOLD exercise is PACOM’s largest exercise. The

event has evolved to facilitate important objectives such as

a greater role in the Asian Pacific region for Japan and

Singapore and re-establishing a partnership with Indonesia.

We access the Utapao Naval Air Field alone a 1000 times a

year. The base was a key for air-bridge operations to Iraq

and for combat operations in Afghanistan. Preserving such

unfettered, unquestioned access requires engagement and

remains a mission and USG priority. Thailand has performed

well on international peacekeeping missions, particularly in

leading UN forces in East Timor, to which Thailand

contributed 1,500 troops. The RTG is currently preparing to

deploy a battalion of peacekeepers for Darfur.

 

14. (SBU) The U.S. and Thailand have extensive cooperation in

medical research. Approximately 400 Mission staff work on

health issues, making the Embassy one of the USG’s largest

efforts to fight the world’s most dangerous diseases:

malaria; TB; dengue; HIV/AIDS; and pandemic influenza. CDC,

USAID, USDA/APHIS, and the Armed Forces Research Institute of

Medical Sciences (AFRIMS) closely collaborate with Thai

counterparts on basic research and trial vaccines. The

sophistication of the Thai scientific and public health

community makes collaboration as useful to the USG as it is

to the Thai. A number of important breakthroughs, such as in

the prevention of HIV/AIDS transmission from mothers to

children, were developed here, and several phase III, double

blind trials for potential HIV vaccines are currently ongoing.

 

15. (SBU) Forty years of law enforcement cooperation

initially focused on counter-narcotics efforts has expanded

to all aspects of transnational crime, defending U.S.

interests and securing extraditions of both U.S. citizens and

third country nationals, and building capacity in the Thai

criminal justice system. Eighteen federal and local law

enforcement agencies are currently represented in the

Embassy. The U.S. and Thailand co-host the International Law

Enforcement Academy, a regional platform to promote law

enforcement professionalism. The extradition case of Russian

arms trafficker Viktor Bout, wanted in New York on charges of

conspiring to provide arms to terrorists, is our current law

enforcement top priority. The court decision is expected

August 11, your first day in Thailand.

 

16. (SBU) On refugees, Thailand continues to host more than

114,000 registered Burmese refugees and has allowed the

resettlement of nearly 10,000 refugees to the U.S. this

fiscal year, for which we are grateful. We continue to push

for greater self-sufficiency activities to end the

“warehousing” of refugees unwilling or unable to resettle

abroad. About 4,000 Burmese refugees crossed into Thailand in

June in response to an offensive by government-allied militia

groups. Thailand has provided temporary protection to this

latest influx, comprised mostly of women and children. A

group of 5,000 Lao Hmong is also of concern. 158

UNHCR-recognized refugees have been confined in an

immigration jail for 2.5 years. Another 4,700 are in an

army-run camp in Phetchabun. The RTG and Government of Laos

have insisted the issue will be handled bilaterally, although

the RTG recently assured the United States that none will be

forcibly returned to Laos. We have also been invited for the

first time to discuss the issue in a trilateral format on

August 7 at the Phetchabun.

 

BANGKOK 00001901 004.2 OF 004

 

THAI ECONOMY CONTINUES TO STRUGGLE

———————————-

 

17. (SBU) The United States and Thailand have long enjoyed a

robust trade relationship; annual bilateral trade has been

over $32 billion in recent years. Cumulative U.S. investment

over the past twenty plus years is estimated at $23 billion.

There is a large American Chamber of Commerce with some 650

members; you will have an opportunity to address the AMCHAM

membership at lunch on August 17. While U.S. direct

investment is down this year largely due to the global

economic crisis, many U.S. firms receive preferred national

treatment in a number of sectors under the bilateral Treaty

of Amity and Economic Relations, the bedrock of our economic

relationship since 1966. A number of large U.S. investments

in petrochemicals, computer parts, and automotives use

Thailand as an export manufacturing base for the region.

Thai officials still need to do more to strengthen the

overall investment climate, particularly on customs reform

and intellectual property rights enforcement.

 

18. (SBU) The global economic crisis hit Thailand’s

export-driven economy particularly hard over the last year.

Exports, historically the bright spot of the Thai economy,

declined 23.5 percent over the first six months of this year

when compared to the same period last year (with exports to

the U.S. declining 27.1 percent). The tourism industry,

another longtime economic growth generator, has experienced a

serious decline in the number of tourist arrivals for the

past 10 months; tourist arrivals in June alone fell 18.6

percent year-on-year. With the lessons of the 1997 financial

crisis under its belt, the banking sector remains sound due

to strong regulation and minimal exposure to risky or toxic

assets. The economy went into official recession with a 7.1

percent drop in GDP the first quarter of this year. Forecasts

show a three to five percent GDP contraction for all of 2009.

If global trade activity remains depressed, Thailand’s

export-dependent economy likely will continue to suffer

significant losses this year.

JOHN

Written by thaicables

July 21, 2011 at 5:48 am

09BANGKOK1822 EAP A/S CAMPBELL’S MEETING WITH DPM SUTHEP

leave a comment »

“218577”,”7/29/2009 10:12″,”09BANGKOK1822″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,

“VZCZCXRO9077

OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM

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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7672

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE

RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING IMMEDIATE 7280

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA IMMEDIATE 9821

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RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE”,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 001822

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/29/2019

TAGS: PGOV, PREL, PBTS, PHUM, PTER, TH, CB

SUBJECT: THAILAND: EAP A/S CAMPBELL\’S MEETING WITH DPM

SUTHEP

 

Classified By: Ambassador Eric G. John, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

 

1. (C) Summary. During a July 21 meeting, Deputy Prime

Minister Suthep Thaugsuban told EAP Assistant Secretary Kurt

Campbell and the Ambassador that the Abhisit Vejjajiva

government was committed to resolving the political conflict

via the rule of law and democracy. The government would not

be able to come to an accommodation with fugitive ex-PM

Thaksin if he continued to evade criminal punishment and

persisted in pushing for the downfall of the government.

Suthep said that he had met with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun

Sen to encourage a broad compromise that addressed

overlapping territorial claims beyond the vicinity of the

Preah Vihear temple, but that no progress had been made. A/S

Campbell stressed to Suthep the need for RTG attention to

concerns regarding the screening process for repatriating Lao

Hmong and highlighted the role Thailand could play in

assisting with international efforts to bring North Korea

back to the Six-Party Talks. End summary.

 

DOMESTIC POLITICS

—————–

 

2. (C) EAP Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell, the Ambassador,

EAP Deputy Assistant Secretary Scot Marciel, and EAP Special

Assistant Mark Tesone met July 21 with Deputy Prime Minister

Suthep Thaugsuban at Government House. A/S Campbell

expressed USG appreciation for the bilateral relationship,

particularly the military alliance, and asked Suthep for his

view of the political situation in the coming months. Suthep

underlined the commitment of Prime Minister Abhisit

Vejjajiva\’s government to the rule of law and to moving

forward with resolving the political conflict via democratic

means. Suthep, emphasizing the destabilizing impact of

former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, stressed that it

would likely take some time before the political situation

improved. Thaksin had continued to claim that he was being

treated unfairly even though he had been found guilty by the

Courts, Suthep said.

 

4. (C) A/S Campbell asked Suthep if the Thai government had

considered approaching Thaksin to discuss a way to promote

political reconciliation. Suthep replied that if Thaksin

stayed abroad, stirred up anti-government sentiments, and

evaded his sentence to prison, there was nothing that the

Thai government could do. The former Prime Minister had not

abandoned his involvement in Thai politics, and the April

2009 protests in Pattaya and Bangkok had demonstrated that

Thaksin was willing to advocate anti-government activities,

Suthep said. The Deputy Prime Minister said that he had

tried to reach out to Thaksin to talk by phone or to go to

meet him in the days following the formation of the Abhisit

government in December 2008, but Thaksin had refused to

consider the request. The Thai government would not enter

into a compromise with Thaksin that would involve the return

of the former PM\’s seized funds, as he had broken the law and

must accept the Court\’s ruling. Suthep said he was concerned

that Thaksin would take a more overt approach to undermining

the Thai monarchy after the reds suffered setbacks in the

aftermath of the April Pattaya and Bangkok disturbances.

 

CAMBODIAN BORDER DISPUTE

————————

 

5. (C) Suthep told A/S Campbell that he had met Cambodian

Prime Minister Hun Sen three times in recent months in an

effort to encourage Cambodian cooperation on a wide range of

territorial issues, including overlapping territorial claims

in the Gulf of Thailand. A larger compromise that would lead

to exploration of gas and oil reserves in the Gulf would

greatly benefit both countries and likely lead to accelerated

resolution of the Preah Vihear temple issue. Suthep said he

believed that Hun Sen understood the larger benefits, but it

appeared that something was holding back the Cambodian Prime

Minister, possibly Vietnamese involvement. Suthep said that

the Thai government was engaging China on the border issue,

as Cambodia needed Chinese support.

 

HMONG

—–

 

BANGKOK 00001822 002 OF 002

 

6. (C) A/S Campbell highlighted strong USG support for the

U.S.-Thai alliance, particularly among members of Congress.

That said, A/S Campbell stressed to Suthep serious

congressional and executive branch concern regarding Lao

Hmong in Thai camps, some of whom likely fear repatriation.

RTG assistance in providing a transparent screening process

for the Hmong would go far in reinforcing goodwill in the

U.S. Suthep told A/S Campbell that a possible solution could

entail the Lao government taking discrete steps to care for

Hmong who voluntarily returned while the Thai government took

care of those who feared returning to Laos. Suthep said that

the Thai Cabinet was expected to soon appoint Tawin Pleansri

as the new Secretary-General of the National Security

Council, and that Tawin would address the Hmong issue.

 

THE SOUTH

———

 

7. (C) Noting that the U.S. viewed southern Thailand as a

domestic issue for the Thai government, A/S Campbell asked

Suthep for his thoughts on the ongoing violence in the South.

Suthep said that the Abhisit government was committed to an

approach to the South that was different from that of

Thaksin, which Suthep characterized as harsh. The RTG would

follow King Bhumibol\’s advice to know and understand the

southern people and to assist with development in the region.

The government would implement a budget of 63 billion baht

(approx $1.9 billion) to provide for accelerated development

in the South, and Suthep would manage the budget himself.

Suthep believed that as progress continued, southerners would

increasingly turn to the government. Already violent

incidents were down by forty-three percent.

 

PRESSURING THE DPRK

——————-

 

8. (C) A/S Campbell highlighted USG concerns to Suthep

regarding North Korea\’s threat to regional security. As

such, the U.S. and partners would pressure Pyongyang to

return to the Six-Party Talks. It would be important for

Thailand and other countries in Southeast Asia to support

these efforts and to insure that North Korea was not able to

proliferate weapons and nuclear materials.

 

9. (U) This cable was cleared with A/S Campbell.

JOHN

Written by thaicables

July 21, 2011 at 5:47 am

09PHNOMPENH505 CAMBODIA SEEKS SUPPORT FOR BID TO JOIN UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE COMMITTEE

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“217489”,”7/21/2009 13:01″,”09PHNOMPENH505″,

“Embassy Phnom Penh”,

“UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY”,

“09PHNOMPENH406″,”VZCZCXRO2417

PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH

DE RUEHPF #0505/01 2021301

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

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FM AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0963

INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0715″,”UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PHNOM PENH 000505

 

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

 

BANGKOK PASS TO S TRAVELING PARTY

STATE FOR EAP/MLS, P, D, IO

PARIS PLEASE PASS TO US MISSION TO UNESCO – S. ENGELKEN

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PREL, KTIA, SCUL, UNESCO, CB

SUBJECT: CAMBODIA SEEKS SUPPORT FOR BID TO JOIN UNESCO

WORLD HERITAGE COMMITTEE

 

REF: PHNOM PENH 406 AND PREVIOUS

 

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. Ministry of Foreign Affairs Secretary of

State Long Visalo July 20 appealed for United States support

of the bid by the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) to join

the UNESCO World Heritage Committee (WHC). Cambodia will

stand in an election for the one open East Asia and Pacific

seat on the 21-member WHC at the UNESCO General Conference in

October. Long Visalo cited Cambodia\’s participation in

UNESCO since the 1992 inscription of Angkor Wat on the World

Heritage List, Cambodia\’s deep cultural heritage, and its

growing experience on the Angkor Wat International

Coordination Committee since 1993 as reasons to support the

candidacy. This would be Cambodia\’s first time to sit on the

WHC and represents another attempt to seek legitimacy in the

international community. Passing a letter from Prime

Minister Hun Sen addressed to the President, Long Visalo

asked for the continued strong support of the U.S. Government

seen in the inscription of the ancient Preah Vihear temple

(Reftel) and for its vote. Full text of the diplomatic note

and attached letter from Prime Minister Hun Sen to the

President is reproduced in paras 6-7. Embassy will deliver

the letter to the Desk via registered pouch. END SUMMARY.

 

2. (SBU) Noting that Cambodia had more than 1000 ancient

Khmer temples, Long Visalo told A/DCM that the RGC revered

its deep culture and had tried to preserve its heritage

dating back hundreds of years. In the Khmer language\’s deep

roots, in Cambodia\’s unique royal ballet dance, and in the

cherished history of shadow puppets could be seen a

commitment to the preservation of cultural heritage.

Cambodia\’s establishment of and participation in the

International Cooperation Committee (ICC) for Angkor Wat

since 1993 was another valuable experience that could be

depended on in the WHC, he said.

 

3. (SBU) During the process that led up to the July 2008

inscription of Preah Vihear temple on Cambodia\’s northern

Dangrek Range, the U.S. had shown itself to be a steady

friend of Cambodia, Long Visalo added. Since then, Cambodia

had shown itself to be a cooperative member in the UN,

committed to the peaceful resolution under international law

of ongoing dispute over the border with Thailand near Preah

Vihear temple. Now the U.S. could once again throw its

support behind Cambodia and cast a vote for Cambodia as the

East Asia and Pacific Islands group candidate at the WHC, he

concluded.

 

4. (SBU) When asked, Long Visalo mentioned that Indonesia

had shown a serious interest in promoting its candidacy for

the same single seat on the WHC in the EAPI region. He

expressed less certainty about the potential candidacy of

Thailand, rumors about which he had heard but which he could

not confirm. (NOTE: Both Thailand and Indonesia have

reportedly served on the WHC before. This would be a first

for Cambodia. END NOTE.)

 

5. (SBU) A/DCM told the MFA Secretary of State that the

request would be conveyed to Washington, although it was

often the case that the U.S. did not discuss candidacies in

advance of votes with other UN members.

 

6. BEGIN TEXT OF DIPLOMATIC NOTE:

 

No. 1013 OI/MFA-IC

 

COMPLIMENTARY OPENING

 

…has the honor to enclose herewith a letter dated 8 July

2009 of Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime

Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, addressed to H.E. Barack

H. Obama, President of the United States of America.

 

The Ministry would be very grateful if the Embassy

could kindly forward the enclosed message to its high

destination.

 

COMPLIMENTARY CLOSE

 

Phnom Penh, 20 July 2009

 

END TEXT OF DIPLOMATIC NOTE

 

7. BEGIN TEXT OF LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT:

 

PHNOM PENH 00000505 002 OF 002

 

Phnom Penh, 08 July 2009

 

H.E. Barack H. Obama

President of the United States of America

Washington

 

Your Excellency,

 

I have the honor to inform Your Excellency that the Kingdom

of Cambodia, State Party to the Convention of 1972 concerning

the protection of cultural and natural World Heritage intends

to present its candidacy for a seat on the World Heritage

Committee during the upcoming Session of the General

Conference in October 2009.

 

The Royal Government is seeking to actively increase our

engagement with the international community in order to

contribute to the preservation and sustainable development of

world heritage and culture. Following the listing of the

Angkor (sic) on the World Heritage List in 1992, Cambodia,s

engagement has increased significantly, particularly in the

last ten years with the listing of the Royal Ballet in 2003,

the Shadow Theatre in 2005 and the Temple of Preah Vihear in

2008.

 

There are a number of reasons why Cambodia is submitting its

candidacy for the Committee for the first time. These

reasons include the importance of the Khmer heritage and its

fame around the world; the great success of the international

action at Angkor with the work of the International

Coordination Committee (ICC), which has been supported by

UNESCO since 1993; and the increasing affirmation of our

commitment to conservation and sustainable development.

According to the friends of our country, all of these reasons

justify why the Kingdom of Cambodia should serve as a member

of the World Heritage Committee.

 

The relations of mutual respect and friendship that the

Kingdom of Cambodia is proud to have with your country, lead

us to hope that you will support our candidacy and vote

accordingly.

 

Soliciting officially your support and your vote, I wish,

Your Excellency, to express my heartfelt gratitude and to

assure you of my highest consideration.

 

Prime Minister

 

Hun Sen (signature)

 

Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo HUN SEN

 

END TEXT OF LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT

 

8. (SBU) COMMENT: Having secured membership in ASEAN in

1999 and as one of the first least developed countries to

join the World Trade Organization in 2004, Cambodia continues

to seek legitimacy in this and other world fora. Cambodia\’s

candidacy for the WHC should stand on its own merits.

However, on another front, given a recent move to use court

defamation cases to check dissent, we should not hesitate to

underline the RGC\’s quest for legitimacy within the

international community, and to appeal for more civil

political discourse as Cambodia goes through an apparent

cyclical downturn in its overall political climate, including

the narrowing of protections for freedoms of speech and press.

RODLEY

Written by thaicables

July 21, 2011 at 5:45 am

09BANGKOK1720 SCENESETTER FOR GENERAL CASEY’S MEETING WITH THAI ARMY COMMANDER GENERAL ANUPONG

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“216975”,”7/16/2009 23:43″,”09BANGKOK1720″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,”VZCZCXRO9603

OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM

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FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

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RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE

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RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE”,

“C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 05

BANGKOK 001720

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY FOR GENERAL CASEY

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/16/2019

TAGS: PGOV, PREL, MARR, MOPS, PINS, PHUM, TH

SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR GENERAL CASEY\’S MEETING WITH THAI

ARMY COMMANDER GENERAL ANUPONG

 

Classified By: Ambassador Eric G. John, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

 

1. (C) Summary. General Casey, your meeting with Thai Army

Commander General Anupong will afford the opportunity to

highlight the importance of Thailand to our regional security

interests and emphasize our support for important areas of

our mil-mil relationship. Our military relationship provides

distinctive force projection opportunities from vital sea and

air lanes, the opportunity to conduct training exercises that

are nearly impossible to match elsewhere in Asia, and a

willing participant in international peacekeeping operations.

As Army Commander, General Anupong is among the most

influential figures in Thailand, and he was an invaluable

steadying factor during political turmoil over the past year.

Anupong firmly resisted calls from a wide range of actors

for military intervention and has insisted both publicly and

privately that Thailand\’s political troubles can only be

worked out through the democratic process. End Summary.

 

ENDURING BILATERAL RELATIONSHIP

——————————-

 

2. (C) Our military relationship began during World War II

when the U.S. trained hundreds of Thais as part of the \”Free

Thai Movement\” that covertly conducted special operations

against the Japanese forces occupying Thailand and drew

closer during the Korean War era when Thailand provided

troops for the UN effort. Thai soldiers, sailors, and airmen

also fought side-by-side with U.S. counterparts in the

Vietnam War and, more recently, Thailand sent contingents to

Afghanistan and Iraq.

 

3. (C) The relationship has evolved into a partnership that

provides the U.S. with unique benefits. As one of five U.S.

treaty allies in Asia and straddling a major force projection

air/sea corridor, Thailand remains crucial to U.S. interests

in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. Underpinning our

strong bilateral relations is the U.S.-Thai security

relationship, which is based on over fifty years of close

cooperation. The relationship has advanced USG interests

while developing Thai military, intelligence, and law

enforcement capabilities.

 

4. (C) Thailand\’s strategic importance to the U.S. should not

be understated. Our military engagement affords us unique

training venues in Asia training, training exercises that are

nearly impossible to match elsewhere in Asia, a willing

participant in international peacekeeping operations,

essential access to facilities amid vital sea and air lanes

that support contingency and humanitarian missions, and a

partner that is a key ASEAN nation in which we continue to

promote democratic ideals.

 

5. (C) The relative power and influence of the Royal Thai

Army (RTA) dwarfs the other services. As such, General

Anupong Paochinda wields more power than does the Chief of

Defense Forces General Songkitti Jaggabartra and is currently

among the most influential figures Thailand. Anupong was an

invaluable steadying factor during political turmoil over the

past year. Anupong firmly resisted calls from a wide range

of actors for military intervention, and has insisted both

publicly and privately that Thailand\’s political troubles can

only be worked out through the democratic process. Anupong

reportedly is close to the Thai Royal Family and has

well-established support among the Army ranks. He has

shifted the RTA\’s focus away from politics, as it was under

the previous RTA Commander General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, to

the South, where he visits once a week.

 

POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT

———————

 

6. (C) The December 2008 installation of the Democrat-led

coalition government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejajjiva has

calmed for now the political situation. Street protests by

People\’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) appear to be finished

and while demonstrations by the now anti-government United

Front of Democracy for Dictatorship (UDD) turned violent in

April, the political situation now appears calmer. Prime

Minister Abhisit is off to a reasonably good start in his

first months in office, but his government faces significant

political challenges and a tough economic situation.

 

BANGKOK 00001720 002 OF 005

 

7. (C) The basic split in Thai society and the body politic

remains. The traditional royalist elite, urban middle class,

Bangkok, and the south on one side (\”yellow\” in shorthand)

and the political allies of ex-Prime Minister Thaksin

Shinawatra, currently a fugitive abroad, along with largely

rural supporters in the North and Northeast (\”red\”) on the

other. Neither side of this split is as democratic as it

claims to be, and both movements reflect concerns stemming

from perceptions of a lack of social and economic justice in

Thailand. New elections would not appear to be a viable

solution to political divide, and political discord could

very well persist for years. We continue to stress to Thai

interlocutors the need for all parties to avoid violence and

respect democratic norms within the framework of the

constitution and rule of law.

 

IMPORTANT MILITARY ENGAGEMENT PROGRAM

————————————-

 

8. (C) Thailand\’s willingness to allow the United States to

use Utapao Naval Air Station as the hub for our regional

assistance program was key to making the 2004 tsunami and the

2008 Cyclone Nargis relief operations a success. While those

high-profile relief operations highlighted publicly the value

of access to Utapao, the air base is used regularly for

military flights. A prime example was the critical support

Utapao provided during OEF by providing an air bridge in

support of refueling missions en route to Afghanistan.

Approximately 300 flights have transited Utapao this year in

support of critical U.S. military operations both regionally

and to strategic areas of the world. Thailand also provides

valued port access with U.S. naval vessels making calls,

primarily at Laem Chabang and Sattahip, over forty times per

year for exercises and visits.

 

COBRA GOLD AND THE MILITARY EXERCISE PROGRAM

——————————————–

 

9. (C) By means of access to good military base

infrastructure and large areas to conduct unrestricted

operations, Thailand gives the U.S. military a platform for

exercises unique in Asia. Thai leaders are far more willing

to host multinational exercises than are other countries in

Asia. Unlike Japan, which only hosts annual bilateral

exercises due to legal prohibitions over collective security,

or the Philippines, where planning for multinational

exercises has been difficult, or Australia, which refuses to

multilateralize Tandem Thrust, the Thai government encourages

multinational exercises as a way to show regional leadership.

This has allowed us to use exercises in Thailand to further

key U.S. objectives, such as supporting Japan\’s growing

military role in Asia and engaging the Indonesian and

Singaporean militaries.

 

10. (C) Cobra Gold, the capstone event of our exercise

program, is PACOM\’s largest annual multi-lateral exercise and

for 28 years has served to strengthen our relations with

Thailand, highlight our commitment to Southeast Asia, and

provide exceptional training opportunities for our troops.

The event has evolved over the years and now facilitates

important objectives such as promoting a greater role in the

Asian Pacific region for Japan and Singapore and

re-establishing a partner role with Indonesia. Cobra Gold is

key to building partner nation capacity in humanitarian

assistance and disaster relief, especially at a time when

U.S. forces face other global commitments. We have also been

able to incorporate into Cobra Gold a robust Global

Peacekeeping Operations Initiative (GPOI) event with active

participation of Indonesia and Singapore.

 

BORDER CONFLICT WITH CAMBODIA

—————————–

 

11. (C) Bilateral relations with Cambodia continue to be

volatile, primarily due to a border dispute centered on 4.6

square kilometers of overlapping territorial claims adjacent

to the 11th century Hindu Preah Vihear temple. Minor

skirmishes have erupted three times in the past year, leading

to the deaths of seven soldiers.

 

12. (C) The roots of the dispute lie in the Siam-France

 

BANGKOK 00001720 003 OF 005

 

agreements of 1904-8 and a 1962 International Court of

Justice ruling that granted Cambodia the temple but left the

rest of disputed land unresolved. Tensions spiked in

mid-2008 when the Thai government in power at that time

supported Cambodia\’s application to UNESCO for a joint

listing of the temple as a world heritage site, only to face

opposition in parliament and an adverse court ruling.

 

13. (C) Difficult issues lay at the heart of the matter and

political conflict in Bangkok may make tough decisions more

difficult for the Thai government. We urge both sides to

resolve their differences peacefully through bilateral

negotiations, border demarcation, and a reduction of troops

deployed along the border.

 

PEACEKEEPING EFFORTS

——————–

 

14. (C) Thailand has historically been a strong supporter of

UN peacekeeping missions and was an early contributing nation

to operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. In addition, Thai

generals very effectively led UN forces in East Timor, to

which Thailand contributed 1,500 troops, and in Aceh where a

Thai general served as the principal deputy of the Aceh

Monitoring Mission, Thailand\’s success in peacekeeping has

led the RTG and the military to seek a more prominent role in

international stabilization and peacekeeping missions. For

instance, Thailand is currently preparing for a deployment of

a battalion of troops for a difficult UNAMID mission in

Darfur. We have continued to underscore to the leadership of

the Thai military that we stand ready to assist the Thai

where possible.

 

15. (C) We are working with the military to increase its

peacekeeping capabilities, both as a contributing nation and

as a trainer of neighboring nations. Using GPOI funding,

necessary upgrades and modernization work to a peacekeeping

training facility at Pranburi will be completed in FY10.

Thailand will provide instructors and maintain the facility,

which will be used for Thai peacekeepers for deployments

abroad and for peacekeeping training events with regional

partners. Thailand is also working to become a center for

training peacekeeping troops from around the region.

 

CONTINUED REFUGEE CONCERNS

————————–

 

16. (C) Due to inherent institutional capabilities, the Thai

military plays a prominent role in the management of the many

refugees that enter Thailand from neighboring countries. The

Thai government has so far failed to set up a transparent

screening process for the thousands of Lao Hmong, many of

whom we believe have a legitimate claim to refugee status,

who seek resettlement in the U.S. Some are former fighters

(or their descendants) allied with the U.S. against the

communist Pathet Lao during the IndoChina War. We want to

take every opportunity to underscore to the military the

importance of transparently handling these refugee cases.

 

SOUTHERN THAILAND

—————–

 

17. (C) The Thai military, since the installation of General

Anupong as Army Commander, has taken a more assertive role in

trying to quell the ethnic Malay Muslim-led insurgency in

southern Thailand, a region that has witnessed episodic

violence since its incorporation into Thailand in 1902.

Regional violence has claimed more than 3,500 lives since

January 2004, when the violence began to escalate. The root

causes of the conflict are political and reflect larger

issues of justice, decentralized democracy, and identity in

Thai society. More specifically, however, Malay Muslims feel

that they are second-class citizens in Thailand.

 

18. (C) The Thai military currently has the lead in trying to

resolve the conflict, but has focused solely on the difficult

security situation. General Anupong has made clear his

feeling that political leaders need to take charge of efforts

to solve the root causes of the insurgency. There is little

political will in Bangkok to take on this issue, however, and

effort of civilian agencies have lagged, focusing on economic

development projects – which most analysts agree will have

 

BANGKOK 00001720 004 OF 005

 

little impact on the violence. While the Abhisit government

appears to want to adopt an integrated government approach to

solving the insurgency with budgetary and policy decisions

possibly transferred to the Office of the Prime Minister, it

remains unclear how the civil-military dynamic will change.

 

19. (C) Southern separatists direct their anger at the

government in Bangkok, not at the United States. Since a

U.S. presence or perception of U.S. involvement in the South

could redirect that anger towards us and link it to the

international jihadist movement — a link that is currently

absent — we ensure that any offers of assistance or training

pass the \”location and label\” test. Put simply, we keep U.S.

military personnel away from the far South and we make sure

that we do not label any assistance or training as directly

linked to the southern situation. Likewise, we work to avoid

feeding rampant, outlandish speculation that we are somehow

fomenting the violence in the South in order to justify

building permanent bases — a very sensitive issue in

Thailand. We do not want to jeopardize our access to key

military facilities in Thailand like Utapao Naval Air Station.

 

20. (C) The Embassy maintains a three-pronged focus to

improve our military cooperation in order to address the

violence in the South:

1) Using our exercise and training program to improve the

professional and operational skills of the Royal Thai Armed

Forces, especially the Thai Army;

2) Helping the Thai break down stovepipes between the Thai

military, police forces, and civilian agencies;

3) Doing everything we can to ensure the Thai respect

international human rights norms as they counter the violence.

 

INTEROPERABILITY

—————-

 

21. (SBU) The U.S. remains the country of first choice for

arms procurement by the military, and has more than $2

billion of arms procurements currently in process. We

continue to look at ways to improve interoperability with the

Thai military, but must take into account the presence of

other regional and global players. Following U.S. sanctions

imposed by the coup in 2006, other countries such as China,

Israel, Sweden, and South Africa were looked at more closely

for procurement. As of late the RTA has embarked on an

equipment mondernization program. The most recent near-term

procurement opportunity with the Army is the expected

purchase of three UH-60L helicopters, which would bring their

fleet to ten, with the possibility of an additional six

being purchased in the next two to four years. Procurement

of UH-60Ls are seen as a workhorse replacement for the

current fleet of Vietnam-era UH1H helicopters that are

nearing the end of their lifecycle.

 

22. (SBU) The Defense Resource Management Study (DRMS)

program is in its second phase in Thailand. There has been

excellent acceptance at the Royal Thai Armed Forces

Headquarters, and more moderate support from the Ministry of

Defense, the Army, Air Force, and Navy. (Note: The Army has

the largest service component budget funded at a 2:1:1 ratio

respectively. End note.) The DRMS program has powerful

resource management and budget modeling tools which can help

the RTA better manage limited resources, although some

resistance can be expected as the Army stands to lose the

most from the additional transparency provided by the

program.

 

23. (SBU) The Royal Thai Army Directorate of Operations has

expressed strong interest in building a non-commissioned

officer development program (NCODP). JUSMAG is supporting

this program and has incorporated NCODP tasks into all JCET

and COIN SMEE engagement venues. We are working with USARPAC

to send two Thai officers to evaluate the Philippine NCODP

and will program future year IMET funding for future years to

further this initiative.

 

THE INCREASING ROLE OF CHINA

—————————-

 

24. (C) Thai leaders continue to develop closer relations

with China while simultaneously emphasizing the vital role of

the U.S. in the region. While Thai military links with the

 

BANGKOK 00001720 005 OF 005

 

United States are deeper and far more apparent than Sino-Thai

links, China\’s growing influence in Thailand and Southeast

Asia is evident in business, the arts, the media, and the

military.

 

25. (C) The Chinese through hosting visits have made a strong

effort to court the Thai military, particularly General

Anupong. The Thai military has a range of Chinese weapons

systems in its arsenal; the PLA Navy is interested in closer

links with the Thai navy, and China has worked with Thailand

to improve air defense equipment provided to Thailand in the

late 1980\’s. In 2007 and 2008, Thai and Chinese Special

Forces conducted joint exercises, and other mil-to-mil

exchanges have expanded in recent years, as has the number of

bilateral military VIP visits. A yet to be finalized

bilateral Marine Corps exercise between China and Thailand

near the eastern seaboard port of Sattahip next year

highlights the continuing push by China to expand their

mil-to-mil relations with Thailand\’s military.

 

26. (C) As the shape of Southeast Asia, Asia writ large, and

the world has changed, so have Thai attitudes. The Chinese

have been making a major push to upgrade all aspects of

relations, including mil-mil. Thailand is not interested in

making a choice between the U.S. and China (nor do we see

closer Chinese-Thai relations as automatically threatening to

our interests here), but we will need to work harder to

maintain the preferred status we have enjoyed.

JOHN

Written by thaicables

July 21, 2011 at 5:44 am

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