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05BANGKOK1169 THE AMBASSADOR’S MEETING WITH PM THAKSIN, FEBRUARY 14, 2005

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“27021”,”2/15/2005 11:40″,”05BANGKOK1169″,

 

“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 001169

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP, EAP/BCLTV. HQ USPACOM FOR FPA HUSO

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/15/2015

TAGS: PREL, PGOV, ECON, TH, TRT – Thai Rak Thai, US-Thai FTA, Southern Thailand, POL/MIL

SUBJECT: THAILAND: THE AMBASSADOR\’S MEETING WITH PM

THAKSIN, FEBRUARY 14, 2005

 

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

 

1. (C) The Ambassador met with Prime Minister Thaksin

Shinawatra at Government House on February 14, 2005.

Although this meeting was billed as an official \”courtesy

call,\” the Ambassador had met with Thaksin several times

since his arrival January 2 with the many high-level visits

for the tsunami relief effort and other events. PM Thaksin

was warm and friendly from the onset of the meeting,

welcoming the Ambassador back to Thailand, and recalling how

they had talked about the country\’s future during the

Ambassador\’s previous assignment to the Embassy. The

Ambassador congratulated Thaksin on his election landslide;

Thaksin expressed his appreciation for the President\’s

congratulatory telephone call. The PM said he looked forward

to hosting former Presidents Bush and Clinton in Phuket on

February 19. During discussion of the regional humanitarian

aid effort staged out of Utapao, Thaksin stressed his strong

support for bilateral cooperation and strengthening the

special relationship that the United States and Thailand

enjoy.

 

2. (C) The Ambassador asked Thaksin about next steps and

policy initiatives now that Thai Rak Thai (TRT) is solely in

control of the Lower House of Parliament. Thaksin said that

the House will reconvene on March 4 and, after selecting a

new Speaker, will officially choose a prime minister. The

new cabinet will be in place by March 18. He said that in

his second term, the economic emphasis will be more on

\”supply and efficiency,\” and refined market-oriented

policies.

 

3. (C) On the FTA, Thaksin said that, with the election

campaign now behind us, the talks could proceed. He reminded

the Ambassador twice that it was he, Thaksin, who had

proposed the FTA in the first place. Thaksin said he had

promised the President that the FTA would be comprehensive.

The Ambassador spoke about the need to educate the Thai

public on the benefits that would derive from an FTA.

Thaksin said that he preferred the use of the word

\”discussion\” to \”negotiation\” because it carried more of an

image of equals working together. (Note: Finance Minister

Somkid Jatusripitak introduced this concept in the

Ambassador\’s meeting with him two weeks ago. End Note.)

Pansak Vinyaratn, one of the PM\’s close advisors, interjected

that, while official Thai negotiators had been named, it was

time now to \”empower\” discussions with Somkid and his team.

(Note: Somkid may not retain the Finance portfolio, but

seems headed for an economic management and policy oversight

role. End Note.) Pansak implied that the Somkid discussions

would be a parallel track with the actual primary negotiating

team. Thaksin expressed interest in the shift of USTR

Zoellick to State, asking whether Zoellick would retain

interest in the FTA talks as Deputy Secretary if confirmed.

 

4. (C) Thaksin began assessed the violence in the South in

familiar terms. He complained about the spread of bad

Islamic theology through some pondoks (Islamic schools). He

said more arrests would be made to break up the network of

false teachers. He asserted an Indonesia connection, noting

that some separatists traveled to Medan. At one point,

Thaksin characterized the situation as \”all political,\” in

which even some members of Parliament were involved in

fomenting problems. Even some candidates from his own TRT

party who lost in the election, bent on revenge, could

complicate matters, he said. Thaksin acknowledged that some

change in his southern strategy was needed, but described it

only as more of a focus on \”peacekeeping.\” (Note: The

Thaksin administration is continuing plans to beef up the

number of military troops in the deep South, claiming that

their primary responsibilities will be civic affairs. End

Note.)

 

5. (C) The Ambassador raised the Ford case and Thaksin said

it had some legal ramifications. Pansak interjected that the

Thai government was trying to make accommodations and come to

an agreement. He said that the emphasis was on forging a

settlement and not prosecuting Ford. However, since Ford had

acted on bad legal and tax advice and done something wrong, a

solution that takes into account those actions was necessary.

However, a lower fine would be possible, he said.

 

6. (C) The Ambassador also brought up the Thai fighter

aircraft purchase, called for transparency in the decision,

and spoke about the capabilities of the F-16, which is

already in Thailand\’s inventory. Thaksin said the priority

is not so much on the aircraft itself as a policy to

\”expedite exports.\” This led to a brief discussion of

chickens and countertrade. The Ambassador argued that

interoperability, military capabilities, and long-term costs

should be primary considerations, but Thaksin stayed with his

emphasis on the importance of export implications.

 

7. (C) On another advocacy issue the Ambassador raised, the

Engine Alliance (Pratt & Whitney and GE) interest in

supplying engines for the new Thai Airbus purchase, Thaksin

seemed confused on the facts of the bid. He assumed that

Pratt & Whitney was somehow out of the picture, and spoke of

a possible teaming up of GE and Rolls Royce (the key rival).

 

8. (C) The Ambassador raised the matter of a follow-on Thai

military contingent in Iraq, noting that we looked forward to

a positive decision on that issue. Thaksin indicated only

that it was still under consideration.

BOYCE

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Written by thaicables

July 6, 2011 at 7:29 am

Posted in Confidential, Thaksin

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