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05BANGKOK1105 AMBASSADOR CALLS ON ROYAL THAI SUPREME COMMANDER CHAISIT

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“26824”,”2/11/2005 8:06″,”05BANGKOK1105″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,

 

“This record is a partial extract of the original cable.

 

The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

“,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 001105

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP, EAP/BCLTV, INR/B

PACOM FOR FPA HUSO

OSD FOR OSD/ISA (STERN AND POWERS)

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/08/2015

TAGS: PGOV, PREL, MARR, TH, Tsunami, POL/MIL, BURMA, Southern Thailand, PKO – Peacekeeping Operations, IMET

SUBJECT: THAILAND: AMBASSADOR CALLS ON ROYAL THAI SUPREME

COMMANDER CHAISIT

 

Classified By: Ambassador Ralph L. Boyce. Reason 1.4 (d)

 

SUMMARY

 

1. (C) On February 8, the Ambassador met with Royal Thai

Armed Forces Supreme Commander General Chaisit Shinawatra to

discuss a variety of security issues. Chaisit was grateful

for U.S. assistance to help Thailand mitigate the impact of

the tsunami and correctly noted that our use of Utapao as a

regional hub was due to years of U.S.-Thai cooperation. He

explained that his Government hopes to use military to

military ties with Rangoon to improve Thai-Burmese relations

since it is especially difficult for Thai civilian leaders to

develop relationships with Burmese military counterparts.

Chaisit several times suggested that change in Burma will be

a slow, step by step, process. He was critical of some

aspects of the RTG\’s policies to curb unrest in the south.

For instance, he suggested that it would be wiser to place

Thai soldiers along the Thai-Malaysian border rather than

have them billeted in urban centers. General Chaisit was

convinced that foreign influences and lack of economic

opportunity combine to encourage Muslim youth in the south to

explore separatist causes. When the Ambassador asked about

the possibility of Thai troops returning to Iraq, Chaisit was

caught unaware that Thailand had recently agreed to dispatch

peacekeepers to Burundi, but his staff noted the importance

of working with UN forces. Chaisit\’s staff wanted increased

U.S. assistance to combat narcotics and to build a National

Training Facility to improve their unconventional warfare

tactics. When they asked us to increase our IMET funding,

the Ambassador noted that Thailand could increase its quota

of students by co-paying transportation and per diem costs.

End Summary.

 

TSUNAMI ASSISTANCE

 

SIPDIS

 

2. (C) Chaisit began the meeting by mentioning he had just

visited Utapao naval air station and had met with CSF-536

commander LtGen Blackman. He again expressed his

Government\’s gratitude for U.S. assistance after the December

26 tsunami. Noting the importance of using Utapao as a

regional relief hub, Chaisit said our bilateral cooperation

was only possible due to decades of working together.

 

COBRA GOLD

 

3. (C) Saying he was glad that Cobra Gold 2005 would still

take place, Chaisit explained the importance of U.S.-funded

Exercise Related Construction (ERC) projects. LTG Kemarat

Kanchanawat, Chaisit\’s J-3, said that ERC projects are

generally planned out five years in advance and that, even

though this year\’s Cobra Gold will take place in the northen

part of Thailand, Supreme Command supports doing some ERC

projects in the south to help mitigate the impact of the

tsunami.

 

SIPDIS

 

BURMA

 

4. (C) The Ambassador asked about Chaisit\’s recent visit to

Burma. Chaisit is convinced that the best way to reduce much

of the cross-border tension is to build up the legitimate

cross-border economic trade. He also cited the large number

of displaced persons without a national identity in Burma as

the cause of many border problems. Chaisit discussed the

difficulty his Government has working with Rangoon\’s SPDC

ruling junta, citing that each of the 17 members has his own

agenda and own power base. Due to the military structure of

Burma\’s government, he explained, the RTG\’s engagement

strategy with Burma is to use military to military links to

help the Thai Foreign Ministry effectively engage with

Burmese counterparts. Even then, Chaisit emphasized, it

remains difficult to understand with confidence who is best

to work with on any given problem. Chaisit also focused on

the difficulty of governing a country as diverse as Burma.

He seemed convinced that Burmese ethnic factionalism and the

lack of a common national identity make the SPDC\’s job even

more difficult. Although he believed that Aung San Suu Kyi

would eventually be released from captivity, Chaisit said

that the resolution of her case, as well as the pace of

reform generally in Burma, will be a slow, step by step

process.

 

SOUTHERN THAILAND

 

5. (C) Turning to the separatist problems in southern

Thailand, Chaisit again emphasized the need for economic

development and better education. He explained that the lack

of legitimate jobs in the region force many to work on the

gray or black market. He was suprisingly frank and critical

of two political decisions in the south. First, he said that

he strongly disagreed with the decision made three years ago

to remove Thai troops from the region. During that period

when troops were not present, he observed, separtists used

the opportunity to become stronger and to enhance links with

outside groups. Second, Chaisit was very critical of the

Royal Thai Army\’s decision to billet troops in urban areas.

While quick to point out that overall responsibilities for

tactics in the south belong to the Royal Thai Army, not

Supreme Command, General Chaisit told me that if the decision

were his, he would move all of his troops to the

Thai-Malaysian border, sealing that border, and only have

undercover operatives working in the cities. He confirmed

previous DAO reporting that a new Infantry Division, the

15th, would be set up to work in the south.

 

6. (C) Repeating a theme Thai leaders have mentioned

frequently lately, Chaisit seemed convinced that foreign

influence among Muslim youth in the south is growing. The

lack of educational opportunities coupled with high

unemployment make them ripe targets for recruitment by

separtist organizations, he noted. He mentioned how many

Muslim boys could not speak Thai effectively and were lured

to Pakistan and other countries to receive instruction at

Koranic schools.

 

ANOTHER PKO OPPORTUNITY

 

7. (C) The Ambassador noted the RTG\’s recent decision to

send peacekeepers to Burundi and asked whether we could

expect a return of Thai troops to Iraq. Chaisit was caught

unaware of the Burundi PKO mission, his staff was up to speed

and quickly mentioned the importance of coordinating such

work through the United Nations.

 

INCREASED U.S. ASSISTANCE

 

8. (C) As expected, Chaisit and his staff had a number of

suggestions for how the United States could improve our

military cooperation. General Kemarat noted the importance

of jointly developing a National Training Facility that could

help the Thai and U.S. improve capabilities in counter

narcotics, counter terrorism, and urban warfare. LTG

Chayasit Linthong, Supreme Command J2, said that he had read

recently that Secretary Rice had promised increased

assistance to U.S. allies in the War on Terror. If this is

true, J2 Chayasit said, Thailand would like to know whether

funds would be available for Thailand. Supreme Commander

Chaisit repeated earlier requests for U.S. assistance in

acquiring Cobra helicopters. He said these could be used in

conjunction with UAVs to strike at militants.

 

IMET

 

9. (C) The Ambassador used LTG Kemarat\’s request that we

augment our IMET assistance to Thailand to remind GEN Chaisit

that Thailand was currently America\’s fourth largest

recipient of IMET funds. The Ambassador suggested that

Thailand could increase the number of students training in

the U.S. if the RTG would begin copayments to cover

transportation and per diem costs, as they had prior to the

1997 economic crisis. Chaisit\’s staff countered by saying

their own training budget to support IMET was shrinking. The

Ambassador said he might raise this issue with Prime Minister

Thaksin, which the Thai side heartily endorsed.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 6, 2011 at 7:27 am

Posted in Chaisit, Confidential

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