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05BANGKOK1431 FORMER PRESIDENTS BUSH AND CLINTON MEETING WITH PRIME MINISTER THAKSIN

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“27659”,”2/25/2005 10:50″,”05BANGKOK1431″,

 

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

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

The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

“,”UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 001431

 

SIPDIS

 

SENSITIVE

 

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP, EAP/BCLTV

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PREL, PGOV, TH, POL/MIL, Tsunami

SUBJECT: THAILAND: FORMER PRESIDENTS BUSH AND CLINTON

MEETING WITH PRIME MINISTER THAKSIN

 

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: In a February 19 meeting, Prime Minister

Thaksin thanked former Presidents Bush and Clinton for U.S.

assistance following the disaster, and highlighted the

excellent cooperation between the U.S. and Thai militaries.

Thaksin discussed Thai recovery efforts and plans for the

affected regions, and pushed for a Bangkok based tsunami

early warning system (EWS). The leaders discussed Thaksin\’s

recent reelection and Thailand\’s HIV/AIDS drugs program. END

SUMMARY

 

2. (SBU) Former Presidents Bush and Clinton met Thai Prime

Minister Thaksin Shinawatra for a discussion and dinner

meeting on February 19, following the former Presidents\’ tour

of tsunami affected areas. Presidents Bush and Clinton were

accompanied by Ambassador Boyce; Ambassador Douglas Hartwick;

and Laura Graham, Chief of Staff to former President Clinton.

Prime Minister Thaksin was accompanied by Foreign Minister

Surakiart Sathirathai, Interior Minister Bhokhin Phonlakun,

and Natural Resources and Environment Minister Suwit

Khunkitti.

 

THANKS BETWEEN FRIENDS

 

3. (SBU) Presidents Bush and Clinton expressed sympathy to

the Prime Minister and the Thai people for the devastation of

the western coast of Thailand and for the great loss of life

from the December 26, 2004 tsunami. Prime Minister Thaksin

thanked the two presidents for the strong and immediate U.S.

response, and the assistance provided by both the USG and the

American people. Thaksin said that the Thai people were

deeply touched that President Bush and former Presidents Bush

and Clinton had all personally visited the Thai Embassy in

Washington to sign the book of condolences.

 

4. (SBU) The former Presidents expressed appreciation for

the excellent cooperation by the Royal Thai Government (RTG)

and the Thai military in supporting regional U.S.

humanitarian relief efforts, particularly the use of the Thai

military facility at Utapao. The Presidents praised the

excellent working relations between the U.S. and Thai

militaries that had made our collective relief response

possible in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. Foreign

Minister Surakiart added that USAID had also been very

helpful in the relief effort.

 

RECOVERY: A TOUGH JOB, BUT MOVING FORWARD

 

5. (SBU) Presidents Bush and Clinton commented on the

scenes of destruction that they had seen during their tour of

the impacted provinces, remarking that they had been deeply

affected by the destruction. They noted, however, that they

were equally impressed by the extent of the clean up, and the

energy and vitality of the Thai people who were busy putting

the region back together. Prime Minister Thaksin said that

the RTG had worked hard in the immediate aftermath of the

tsunami, with some 6,000 military personnel contributing to

 

SIPDIS

relief efforts. Thaksin noted that the RTG had evacuated

some 5,000 foreign tourists within 2 days of the disaster,

and had paid the medical bills of tourists injured by the

tsunami. Foreign Minister Surakiart explained that the Prime

 

SIPDIS

Minister had been directly involved in relief and recovery

efforts from the beginning, noting that Thaksin had traveled

to Phuket every two days during the immediate crisis to

personally take charge of recovery efforts.

 

6. (SBU) Thaksin optimistically estimated that most

affected areas would be largely recovered by the end of the

year, but noted that Phi Phi Island, which had been

devastated, would take longer to recover. The Prime Minister

said the RTG had begun a large-scale housing program that

would eventually produce some 50,000 homes for displaced

persons.

 

7. (SBU) While recovery efforts are moving ahead, the Prime

Minister said the RTG was seeking additional cooperation and

assistance both from foreign governments and from the private

sector. Thaksin proudly noted that Thailand had not asked

for, or received cash assistance, but said they did need

specialized technical assistance. He said that environmental

recovery efforts were of particular concern, and would

require additional expertise. Thaksin also highlighted how

important the tourism industry is for Thailand\’s economy. He

said that Thailand needed to get the message out to potential

tourists that they are welcome and that hotels are ready to

receive them.

 

EARLY WARNING DIPLOMACY

 

8. (SBU) The former Presidents asked the Prime Minister

about the proposed regional tsunami early warning system.

Thaksin said that Thailand had hosted a meeting January 28-29

meeting in Phuket with representatives of all concerned

countries, including the U.S. Thaksin said that the meeting

had produced agreement that all countries needed to be

linked, however, they were unable to reach consensus on

Thailand\’s proposal that Bangkok be the site of the proposed

early warning center. Thaksin said that regardless of the

final decision on the location of the regional center,

Thailand would develop its own early warning system, which he

hoped to have in place by the end of April 2005. Thaksin

also noted that ASEAN member countries had agreed to

establish a \”standby\” agreement to pool information about

resources so that in future disasters response times would be

drastically reduced.

 

HIV/AIDS PROGRAMS IN THAILAND

 

9. (SBU) Prime Minister Thaksin asked former President

Clinton about his work on HIV/AIDS, and the possibility that

Thai firms could become involved in efforts to produce

inexpensive anti-retroviral drugs for AIDS victims.

President Clinton stated that he was very interested in

expanding HIV/AIDS drug availability, noting that his AIDS

Foundation was having some modest success in providing

affordable drugs to victims. President Clinton said the key

to expanding drug coverage was ensuring that local

authorities establish a medically credible system to provide

the drugs to patients in a regulated manner. Thaksin claimed

that Thai pharmaceutical companies could produce

anti-retroviral drugs more cheaply than other countries,

including India. President Clinton promised to explore

having his foundation purchase drugs from Thai firms.

 

THAKSIN\’S REELECTION

 

10. (SBU) Presidents Bush and Clinton congratulated the

Prime Minister on his convincing victory during the February

6 national elections. President Clinton praised Thaksin for

his effective leadership and for being a strong friend of the

U.S. Thaksin thanked the Presidents for their sentiments,

and agreed that the Thai people had given his Thai Rak Thai

party a powerful mandate by giving them 378 of the 500 seats

in Parliament, a historic number in Thailand\’s modern

democratic history. Ambassador Boyce noted that this was the

first time that a Prime Minister enjoyed a full majority.

 

11. (SBU) Former Presidents Bush and Clinton did not have

the opportunity to clear this cable.

BOYCE

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Written by thaicables

July 6, 2011 at 7:37 am

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