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05BANGKOK3283 DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK’S MAY 4, 2005 MEETING WITH FM KANTHATI

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“32804”,”5/18/2005 4:03″,”05BANGKOK3283″,

“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 05 BANGKOK 003283

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPARTMENT FOR D, EAP, EAP/BCLTV, EB, NEA, PM. HQ PACOM FOR

FPA (HUSO).

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/04/2015

TAGS: OVIP, PREL, PGOV, ECON, MARR, TH

SUBJECT: THAILAND: DEPUTY SECRETARY ZOELLICK\’S MAY 4, 2005

MEETING WITH FM KANTHATI

 

Classified By: Ambassador Ralph L. Boyce. Reason: 1.5 (b,d)

 

1. (C) Summary: On May 4, 2005 Deputy Secretary Zoellick

met with Thai Foreign Minister Kanthati Suphamongkhon at the

Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). In an 80-minute exchange,

they covered key areas for inclusion in the Free Trade

Agreement (FTA) negotiations, Thai endorsement of the

Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) Statement of

Principles (SOP), the Thai interceptor aircraft purchase and

the F-16, the insurgency in southern Thailand, and Burma

(including the ASEAN Chair issue). They also briefly

discussed Indonesia, the East Asia Summit (EAS), China,

Japan, North Korea, shrimp, avian flu and tsunami relief.

End Summary.

 

2. (SBU) Deputy Secretary Zoellick congratulated FM

Kanthati on his appointment as foreign minister and noted

that close U.S.-Thai cooperation on delivering regional

humanitarian assistance in the aftermath of the tsunami had

strengthened bilateral ties. He said that the start of the

second terms of President Bush and Prime Minister Thaksin was

a good time to exchange views on key issues and move forward.

 

FREE TRADE AGREEMENT

 

3. (C) The Deputy Secretary said that a Free Trade

Agreement (FTA) was one important legacy that could be

achieved as both leaders looked towards the coming several

years. He recalled that on his last visit to Thailand as

USTR, PM Thaksin had made time while in the hospital for him

and they had launched discussions on an FTA. It was natural

that elections had slowed momentum a bit, but given the

strong history of friendship and partnership of the two

countries, and with strong leadership now in place, an

opportunity for renewed impetus presented itself. The U.S.

would like to conclude a comprehensive, gold-standard FTA

which, experience had shown, would send a signal to investors

and traders. Such an FTA could give an additional push for

growth and development in Thailand.

 

4. (C) The Deputy Secretary reviewed four sets of issues

that he planned to raise with PM Thaksin. He hoped there

would soon be new instructions to Ambassador Nitya

Pibunsongkram, the Thai FTA negotiator, to work on with new

USTR Rob Portman. The four areas were: Financial Services;

Services and Investment; Intellectual Property Rights (IPR);

and Environment and Labor. For each area, he noted awareness

of Thai sensitivities but explained the advantages that

Singapore and others had gained after taking on similar

commitments. The Deputy Secretary emphasized that upcoming

fourth round of FTA discussions in Montana, the home state of

Democratic Senator Baucus, Ranking Member of the Senate

Finance Committee, was an opportunity to garner political

support if the session went well. He also expressed pleasure

that the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sector was being

drawn into the talks. The Deputy Secretary said he was aware

of discussions about a Science and Technology accord and

agreement to work on an Open Skies agreement. He said he

hoped, together with the Prime Minister, to get the FTA back

on track and to combine it with these other areas of

cooperation into a good package.

 

5. (C) FM Kanthati responded that the Deputy Secretary\’s

points on the FTA were very much on Thai minds. He said that

the perception in the general public was that in negotiations

with a major power, Thailand would lose out. The RTG, he

said, had moved beyond the public mindset, but its experience

in dealing with Peru showed how powerful perceptions can be.

The Peruvian public had looked on Thailand as the \”major

power\” in that encounter. Kanthati added, however, that

Thailand had \”no problem\” in principle with the notion of a

comprehensive FTA. In FTA negotiations with China, Thailand

had chosen an \”early harvest\” approach concentrating on

fruits and vegetables but was looking at a more comprehensive

agreement with China as well.

 

6. (C) Kanthati confirmed that the banking industry is

concerned about the impact of opening Thai financial services

to competition. He noted that the Finance Ministry would be

involved in the next FTA round and opined that the

discussions \”should move ahead.\” On IPR, Kanthati said there

was public concern that an FTA would increase the price of

pharmaceuticals and reduce access to medicine, especially for

drugs to treat HIV/AIDS and similar diseases. In general,

however, Thailand shared U.S. views on IPR and the need to

protect knowledge-based industries. Thai musicians, for

example, had to be protected from IPR violations, and the

government would like to see more Thai brands gain

international recognition. Kanthati said that involving SME

also fit well with what PM Thaksin had in mind and that

Thailand would welcome the chance to work with U.S. national

and state authorities to establish direct links with

different U.S. states in this area.

 

7. (SBU) Overall, Kanthati said, Thailand is faced with

strong domestic hesitation about FTA, but Ambassador Nitya

was doing a good job negotiating with the U.S. and explaining

back home what he was doing. The RTG wanted and needed a

successful FTA, but he emphasized that it must result \”not

only in free trade but fair trade.\” Kanthati noted that if

aspects of the FTA impact on Thai laws, it will have to be

reviewed and approved by the Thai Parliament.

 

8. (C) The Deputy Secretary said that one of his key aims

was to address public attitudes and sensitivities on both

sides. Fair trade was a theme for many in the U.S. too.

There was concern about competition from Thai small truck

manufacturers, for example. Regarding access to medicines,

the important point was that nothing in our FTAs lessens the

commitments made in WTO/TRIPS, including the access to

medicines commitment made in August 2003. It might be

possible to amplify this point in a side letter, as we had

done in other FTAs.

 

PROLIFERATION SECURITY INITIATIVE (PSI)

 

9. (C) The Deputy Secretary expressed appreciation for

Thailand\’s strong cooperation on counter-terrorism and urged

the RTG to endorse the PSI Statement of Principles (SOP),

emphasizing that it did not obligate Thailand to do anything

but would set in place the framework for Thailand to

participate with us and others in PSI activities. He

outlined the importance of maritime security in Asia and

pointed out that North Korea had a history of transporting

WMD components on the region\’s waters. Kanthati said that

the RTG shared U.S. concerns about WMD and was in the process

of seeking Cabinet approval of the PSI SOP.

IRAQ

 

10. (C) The Deputy Secretary reviewed recent developments

in Iraq and underscored that 2005 is a key year for its

future. The Deputy Secretary provided an account of his

recent visit to Baghdad and Falluja and discussed formation

of the new Iraqi leadership, the positive signs of democratic

politics in action there, progress in Iraqi capabilities to

combat the insurgency, and the staying power of the Iraqi

government. He said that the U.S. and EU would convene a

conference on June 22 to consider further support for Iraq

and suggested that might be an opportunity for ASEAN and

others in Asia to engage as well. The Deputy Secretary

thanked Kanthati for Thailand\’s military support of Operation

Iraqi Freedom (OIF), and raised the letter sent by CJCS

General Myers asking Thailand to contribute staff officers to

man the OIF multinational headquarters.

 

11. (C) Kanthati did not respond directly to the matter of

CJCS Myers\’ request. He said that Thailand had been pleased

to send military engineers and medical personnel to Iraq to

help with humanitarian assistance and continued to think

about humanitarian support. One factor, he said, was making

sure that any Thai action did not have a negative impact on

the Muslim separatist violence in Thailand\’s South. He said

that Thailand wants to help and is willing to invite Iraqis

to train in Thailand. (Note: He was not specific about the

type of training. End Note.)

 

F-16 PURCHASE

 

12. (SBU) The Deputy Secretary urged that Thailand

favorably consider Lockheed Martin,s proposal to sell F-16s,

noting the firm,s readiness to include a counter trade offer

as part of its bid. He stressed the value of

interoperability; the F-16, alone among the competing

aircraft, could ensure that allied air forces would be able

to connect and communicate.

 

13. (SBU) Kanthati said that with the end of the Cold War

and the collapse of the Soviet Union, Sweden and Russia were

eager to be competitive in sales of their aircraft. The Thai

defense establishment was responsible for weighing the

options. Sweden and Russia were willing to offer barter

deals involving items such as Thai chicken, a high priority

of PM Thaksin, who was concerned about Thailand\’s current

account situation. Kanthati said that Thailand had questions

about the Lockheed Martin offer of offsets, because it was

difficult to price the value of offsets. He suggested that

U.S. interest in Thai chicken would be important to the final

recommendation by Defense. He closed by noting that the

competition was still open.

 

SOUTHERN THAILAND

 

14. (SBU) The Deputy Secretary said he was aware that PM

Thaksin had established a National Reconciliation Committee

(NRC) to address the separatist insurgency in the South. He

said that this seemed like an appropriate initiative and

asked FM Kanthati for his views on the South.

 

15. (SBU) Kanthati said there are grounds for optimism.

The RTG was listening to all sides and convoked an almost

unprecedented joint session of Parliament for extensive

discussions. PM Thaksin was deeply engaged. The problem,

Kanthati said, was not religion. Certain groups were

\”pulling down\” (i.e. exploiting) religion and attracting

innocents to their cause. The RTG recently invited the

Chairman of the Indonesian moderate Islamic group, Nahdlatul

Ulama (NU), to visit the South and, after talking to 1000

people, he also had concluded that religion was being used to

mask other activities. The RTG was determined to win back

support by following due process of law and transparency

after past incidents of abuses by local military and police

had alienated many Muslims. Anand Panyarachun, the head of

the NRC, was respected throughout Thailand for being open,

transparent and fair. His involvement added another positive

dimension to the RTG southern policy. Kanthati said that he

recently accompanied PM Thaksin to Jordan and King Abdullah

had explained that most Muslims are moderate. The RTG

believed the same was true in southern Thailand and wanted to

focus on education, use due process to clear up old local

abuses, and make ethnic Malay Thai Muslims feel that Thailand

is their home. This will take time, and complications from

score settling and involvement by drug smugglers have to be

overcome, but the violence can be ended, Kanthati said.

 

BURMA

 

16. (C) The Deputy Secretary asked for Kanthati\’s sense of

regional positions on Burma and said that Burma\’s assumption

of the ASEAN Chair in 2006 would reduce the U.S. ability to

engage with ASEAN in ways that we would like to and that

would advance common interests.

 

17. (C) Kanthati said that Thailand continued to share the

U.S. goal of wanting democratization in Burma as soon as

possible. To that end, he had recently engaged in

consultations with Burmese Foreign Minister Nyan Win and

others to explain the international community\’s concerns and,

keeping in mind that the two countries shared a 2400

kilometer border, to stress that Thailand wanted change.

Kanthati said that Nyan Win had responded that an early

release of Aung San Suu Kyi would create problems for the

Burmese national reconciliation process. The Burmese said

release would have to wait until after the SPDC resumed the

National Convention in November to finish drafting a new

constitution and had held a referendum on the constitution.

Kanthati said that he pushed for a quicker resumption of the

National Convention, but Nyan Win seemed firm on November.

There was also, he noted, continuing competition between SPDC

leaders Than Shwe and Maung Aye for influence that impacted

on the pace of reconciliation.

 

18. (C) Kanthati said that he had also raised concerns

about Burma assuming the ASEAN Chairmanship. He claimed that

Nyan Win had responded that ASEAN unity was more important

than Rangoon\’s interests and that Burma won\’t detract from

that. Kanthati said that the Burmese privately expressed

willingness to postpone assumption of the chairmanship.

Kanthati said he told Nyan Win that timing was a factor, and

that ASEAN will try to make it appear that passing up the

ASEAN chair was a Burmese initiative. Kanthati said he

advised the Burmese FM that an early announcement would be

best and Nyan Win had proposed July, although other Burmese

still wanted to wait until the ASEAN Kuala Lumpur Summit at

the end of the year.

 

19. (C) The Deputy Secretary expressed appreciation for

Thai efforts on Burma but was nevertheless concerned about

Thailand\’s reputation. Some may see Thailand as too

accommodating to the thugs in Rangoon. Kanthati said he

hoped that the Deputy Secretary would help explain the actual

situation and clear up misunderstandings. He said he was

open to consultations with anyone about Burma.

 

SHORT TAKES ON INDONESIA, EAST ASIA SUMMIT, CHINA, JAPAN,

NORTH KOREA, ETC.

 

20. (C) The Deputy Secretary asked Kanthati for his views

on regional issues. Kanthati said that he had recently

visited Jakarta and believed that the new government was

successfully consolidating itself, although problems with

Aceh continue. He noted that Thailand had taken into custody

five heavily-armed Indonesians aboard a vessel off southern

Thailand, but the Indonesians had suggested that the

detainees were more likely to be tied in to the Aceh conflict

than the Thai South. Kanthati said Indonesia was concerned

about its ability to police the Malacca Strait and wanted

help with capacity-building for that task.

 

21. (SBU) Kanthati said that Thailand supported the

\”inclusive\” approach to the East Asia Summit (EAS). He met

recently with ASEAN counterparts in the Philippines, he said,

and they agreed that countries should be invited if they: 1)

had substantial relations with ASEAN; 2) were ASEAN dialogue

partners; and, 3) supported the Treaty of Amity and

Cooperation. He mentioned that New Zealand would probably

join EAS and that the question of Australia was being

weighed. The Deputy Secretary said that a more open and

inclusive EAS made more sense. Thailand could play a central

role.

 

22. (SBU) Kanthati said that Thailand looked at China as an

increasingly formidable player in the region with which the

RTG wanted closer ties as an economic partner. It regarded

Japan in much the same way, and had found the recent tension

between Japan and China unsettling. He said that it had been

noticed that Japan had been strongly demanding an apology

from China over the anti-Japanese demonstrations and then,

suddenly, it was Japan which had apologized.

 

23. (SBU) Kanthati also stated that the Thai government,

and he personally, would be happy to help on the Korean

Peninsula issues, given Thailand,s diplomatic relations with

Pyongyang.

 

24. (SBU) Kanthati asked for an update on the issue of Thai

shrimp and U.S. anti-dumping investigations. The Deputy

Secretary said that the ITC had agreed to examine the issue

 

SIPDIS

of changed circumstances in light of the tsunami. Its

investigation would proceed in an open and transparent

process that would play out in the coming weeks/months.

 

25 (SBU) The Deputy Secretary noted the importance of

working closely with Thailand on avian influenza. There was

a need for early identification, accurate information, and

transparency because, otherwise, the situation with the

disease could quickly get nasty. He also noted again how

pleased and proud the U.S. was to have worked with Thailand

on tsunami relief and how important that cooperation had been

to Aceh in particular. In addition to official USG

assistance, the Deputy Secretary noted about USD 1.2 billion

had been raised privately in the U.S. for tsunami recovery.

Former President Clinton was expected to visit the region

soon.

 

26. (U) Participants: In this meeting, Deputy Secretary

Zoellick was accompanied by Ambassador Boyce, EAP DAS Marie

Huhtala, D Executive Assistant Ross Wilson, PA Deputy

Spokesman Joseph Adam Ereli, D Special Assistant for EAP

Chris Castro, D Special Assistant for Outreach and Public

Affairs Christine Davies, D Personal Assistant Lisa

Martilotta, Embassy Bangkok Economic Counselor Mike Delaney,

and Political Counselor Bob Clarke (notetaker). In addition

to FM Kanthati, MFA Deputy Minister Preecha Laohapongchana,

Advisors to the FM Dr. Pracha Guna-Kasem and Mrs. Sally

Jutabha, MFA Deputy Permanent Secretary Pisan Manawapat,

Americas Director-General Nongnuth Phetcharatana, Spokesman

Sihask Phuangketkeow, and East Asian Affairs Director General

Director-General Nopadol Gunavibool sat in on the Thai side.

 

27. (U) This cable has been reviewed by the Office of the

Deputy Secretary.

ARVIZU

Written by thaicables

July 7, 2011 at 5:23 am

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