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09BANGKOK206 AMBASSADOR AND CROWN PRINCE DISCUSS POLITICS, BILATERAL TIES, KING’S HEALTH, ARMS TRAFFICKER EXTRADITION

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“188948”,”1/27/2009 9:55″,”09BANGKOK206″,”Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,”VZCZCXRO5751

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RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY”,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 000206

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/27/2019

TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PINR, ECON, ETRD, KJUS, KCRM, TH

SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR AND CROWN PRINCE DISCUSS POLITICS,

BILATERAL TIES, KING\’S HEALTH, ARMS TRAFFICKER EXTRADITION

 

BANGKOK 00000206 001.2 OF 002

 

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

 

1. (U) The Ambassador had a private New Year\’s audience with

Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn for 45 minutes at the Amporn

Palace in Bangkok on January 26. The Crown Prince\’s consort,

Princess Srirasmi, also attended.

 

Political Scene

—————

 

2. (C) The Crown Prince noted it was clear to the Thai public

that the Ambassador had been quite active in 2008,

particularly during the political crisis of the past six

months. The Ambassador\’s interest in Thailand was seen as

very positive, and it was good that he was seen meeting with

politicians and others from across the political spectrum,

both in Bangkok and in the provinces. Only by doing so can

one get \”the true story\” about politics in Thailand. The

Crown Prince said that it was essential that the King

remained silent throughout the political crisis. To have

done anything else would have not been proper, and would have

damaged the Monarchy. In response to the Ambassador\’s

comment that the King looked much healthier over the past

month, the Crown Prince agreed, and said that his father had

been rather sick in December. The King\’s sister\’s cremation

ceremony in November, the political upheaval and the airport

takeover all had taken their toll. With those burdens

lifted, the King was in much better spirits now.

 

Economic Engagement

——————-

 

3. (C) The Crown Prince said that the U.S. and global

economic situations certainly would have a negative impact on

the Thai economy, but he was confident that the situation

would quickly rebound – \”These things go in cycles.\” The

Ambassador noted that our bilateral economic relationship

remained vitally important for both countries. American

investment was slowing down in Thailand, but more as a

consequence of an overall drop in U.S. investment in the

region, rather than because of conditions in Thailand. The

U.S. would like to be able to increase exports to Thailand,

however, and would be exploring ways to do so, including the

potential sale of Boeing aircraft to Thai Airways this year.

The Crown Prince, an avid pilot, said that he still flew a

Boeing 737 for Thai Airways occasionally.

 

Building U.S.-Thai Relations

—————————-

 

4. (C) The Crown Prince said he was pleased that the

Ambassador and Mrs. John were so visible in the Thai media,

particularly on university campuses and with nongovernmental

groups, since it was important for a new generation of Thais

to learn the value of a strong and close relationship with

the United States. \”Our generation grew up in the Vietnam

War, and easily understood the strategic importance of having

a strong alliance with the U.S.\” The Ambassador responded

that the military alliance remained vital to the U.S.,

particularly for force projection, live-fire training, and

multilateral military exercise capabilities. Next month\’s

Cobra Gold exercises were a case in point. The Crown Prince

enthusiastically agreed, adding that it was important that

both Thais and Americans understood that.

 

Viktor Bout

———–

 

5. (C) The Ambassador raised the case of Viktor Bout, the

accused arms trafficker in detention in Bangkok awaiting

extradition to the United States. This case is extremely

important to the U.S., given that Bout worked closely with

known terrorists plotting to kill Americans. Extraditing him

would be important for the continued high level of law

enforcement cooperation we have. President Bush raised the

case directly with Prime Minister Samak in Bangkok in August

2008, and the Ambassador had raised it with Prime Ministers

Samak, Somchai, and Abhisit, as well as with four Foreign

Ministers. It was important that the United States could

count on its ally to do the right thing in a case like this.

That said, the Ambassador explained we were aware that Bout

 

BANGKOK 00000206 002.2 OF 002

 

was working every possible channel to secure his release –

legal, or otherwise – so that he could return to Russia and

avoid extradition. This would be a severe blow to our ties.

The U.S. is patient, and understands the long legal

procedures in Thailand, but expects that, in the end, those

legal procedures will result in Bout\’s extradition.

 

6. (C) The Crown Prince said he understood, and recommended

that we continue to pursue the case with the Prime Minister

and relevant cabinet officials. Samak and Somchai would not

have been able to focus on the case since \”they were too

concerned with their own survival.\” The Abhisit government

would be better placed to follow through on the case.

 

A Relaxed Prince

—————-

 

7. (C) The Crown Prince was very engaged in this rare

audience. For a man who is known to have his \”off days,\”

this was not one of them. There was no strained effort to

make conversation, in contrast to previous meetings, and he

was visibly relaxed in the session, particularly after the

media cameramen departed the room. At the end of the

session, the Crown Prince and his consort brought in their

four-year-old son, dressed in an identical suit, tie, and

pocket kerchief as his father, and amiably mused about the

difficulties of raising a child in the modern royal

environment with constant public scrutiny.

JOHN

Written by thaicables

June 23, 2011 at 1:52 am

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