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05BANGKOK2318 THAILAND’S POSITION ON BURMA AND ASEAN: NEW FACE, SAME POLICY

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“29881”,”4/1/2005 6:19″,”05BANGKOK2318″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,

“05STATE50205”,

“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 002318

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/BCLTV. HQ USPACOM FOR FPA (HUSO)

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/01/2015

TAGS: PREL, PHUM, PGOV, TH, BM, ASEAN, BURMA

SUBJECT: THAILAND\’S POSITION ON BURMA AND ASEAN: NEW FACE,

SAME POLICY

 

REF: STATE 50205

 

Classified By: Political Counselor Robert Clarke, Reason: 1.4 (b) and (

d)

 

1. (C) Summary: The appointment of a new foreign minister,

Kantathi Suphamongkhon, will not substantially change

Thailand\’s \”constructive engagement\” policy towards Burma,

according to a key Foreign Ministry (MFA) official

responsible for Burma. Kantathi has already publicly (and

privately) made clear that Thailand will not join a movement

to thwart Burma from assuming the ASEAN chairmanship in 2006

if it has not implemented democratic reforms before then.

The MFA official said the Burma chairmanship issue will be

discussed informally in Cebu, but he doubted that other ASEAN

governments — despite some recent statements — were serious

about pressuring Burma on that issue. On related matters,

the \”Bangkok Process\” appears dead because the SPDC does not

want to engage potential critics while it still has not

achieved any reform progress with which to respond. The Thai

believe that the European Union (EU) is on the verge of

softening its policy towards Burma. End Summary.

 

2. (C) On March 22, Post conveyed reftel para 5 talking

points in a non-paper to MFA and, on March 31, PolCouns

followed up with XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXX

XXXXXXXXXX official handling Burma. Many of reftel\’s

points were also raised with new Foreign Minister Kantathi

Suphamongkhon on March 30 by visiting Ambassador to Korea and

A/S Designate for EAP Christopher Hill (septel), by visiting

Congressman Adam Smith (D, WA) in a separate meeting, by

Ambassador Boyce in both meetings, and underscored in a paper

the Ambassador left with the FM.

 

3. (C) On March 31, Polcouns and Poloff Sweeney reiterated

the reftel points, elaborating on the negative U.S. view of

recent developments in Burma and asking for the RTG\’s latest

thinking on its own Burma policy and the Burma ASEAN

chairmanship issue. XXXXX responded that he expected to

brief FM Kanthathi in the near future on the details of

Thailand\’s \”Myanmar\” policy, but it already seemed clear that

no change in the \”constructive engagement\” approach is in the

offing. He said that Kanthati has already publicly stated

his disagreement with the idea put forward by some other

ASEANs to put pressure on Burma to implement democratic

reforms or forgo assuming the ASEAN chairmanship for 2006-7.

He said he expected that the RTG will continue to dialogue

with the SPDC and, while there are no specific plans yet for

Kantathi to travel to Burma, the FM will take time to

approach the SPDC as he has had no personal contact with the

Burmese generals. XXXX noted that the plan from former FM

Surakiart\’s tenure for an informal \”high level meeting\” with

Burmese General Thura Shwe Mann in late May is still on the

calendar. He said that MFA has also been approached by both

SPDC FM Nyan Win and PM Soe Win about visiting Thailand, but

the RTG has not responded.

 

4. (C) Carefully emphasizing that it was only his personal

view, XXXXX said there might be some room for \”fine tuning\”

in Burma relations as Kantathi had also recently been quoted

as saying that the RTG \”won\’t let the Burma issue compromise

Thailand\’s regional standing.\” This, he said, could mean

there is a limit to how much the Thais could really engage

the Rangoon regime, and might possibly result in \”a slight

step back\” from pursuing the bilateral ties.

 

5. (C) XXXX also opined, however, that recent calls by

Malaysian and Singapore MPs and officials to bring up the

Burma chairmanship issue in Cebu later this month are mainly

\”a show,\” allowed by many ASEAN governments, including the

RTG, to highlight concerns to Burma while keeping the ASEAN

mechanism and policy of non-interference essentially

unchanged. The Thai view, he commented wryly, is \”Let

Kraisak make the noise,\” a reference to Senator Kraisak

Choonhavan, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations

Committee, who is a vocal critic of the Burmese regime. And

XXXX said that he did not expect that, in the end, other

ASEAN governments would join a serious consensus to pressure

the Burmese, not even the Malaysians. (Note: On March 29,

it was reported locally that Prime Minister Thaksin —

supposedly commenting on a statement made by Malaysian FM

Syed Hamid Albar to the effect that the Burma chairmanship

issue could only be decided by a full ASEAN consensus —

agreed that \”all ASEAN members together will have to find a

solution and decide how to show collective concern to Myanmar

for its adjustment.\” End Note.)

 

6. (C) XXXXXX said he nevertheless did expect the Burma

chairmanship issue to be discussed extensively at the ASEAN

ministerial \”retreat\” in Cebu although, in line with ASEAN

traditions, the issue does not even appear on the \”indicative

list\” (informal agenda) for that meeting. However, he also

noted that Burma is aware that it has about 15 months left

until the ASEAN ministerial in November 2006, enough time to

run through its National Convention constitution-drafting

exercise and a possible referendum, which will probably be

\”good enough for ASEAN.\”

 

7. (C) XXXXXXX commented that the \”Bangkok Process\” is

definitely dead as the SPCD does not want to participate in

meetings with Europeans and others where they (the Burmese)

have nothing to talk about in terms of democratic openings

and only open themselves up to criticism. XXXXXXX also

mentioned that he had a follow-on meeting that morning with a

local representative of the European Commission (EC) who

apparently wanted to discuss contemplated changes in European

Union policy towards Burma in the direction of resuming

high-level visits, restoring some European aid programs, and

easing up on European use of sanctions. After that meeting,

XXXXXXX told PolCouns that the EU seems to moving to these

revised positions.

ARVIZU

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Written by thaicables

July 7, 2011 at 5:10 am

Posted in Burma, Confidential

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