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06BANGKOK429 CODEL GILLMOR MEETING WITH PM THAKSIN AND PARLIAMENT SPEAKER

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“50338”,”1/23/2006 10:05″,”06BANGKOK429″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,”VZCZCXRO8594

PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH

DE RUEHBK #0429/01 0231005

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

P 231005Z JAN 06

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5847

INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE”,

“C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 000429

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/22/2016

TAGS: PREL, PGOV, ECON, TH

SUBJECT: CODEL GILLMOR MEETING WITH PM THAKSIN AND

PARLIAMENT SPEAKER

 

Classified By: Ambassador Ralph Boyce, reason 1.4 (b) (d)

 

1. (C) Summary: On January 16, CODEL Gillmor met with Prime

Minister Thaksin and with Parliament Speaker Bhokin.

Discussion focused on FTA negotiations, F-16s, and Burma.

Thaksin voiced confidence and optimism on the FTA while

taking the opportunity to vent his anger with the opposition

and the media. Thaksin committed (yet again) to pushing his

government to lift the ban on US beef, and assured the

delegation that his government would follow through on the

purchase of F-16s. Thaksin and Foreign Minister Kantathi

voiced frustration with Burma. FM Kantathi\’s promised to use

his upcoming meeting with Burma\’s FM to insist that Burma

allow Malaysian FM Hamid to pay a visit to Burma. On the

Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), Thaksin stated that

Thailand would first like to see the US reach agreements with

some of ASEAN,s Muslim members. Thaksin also spoke briefly

about his prescription to cure poverty in Thailand. End

Summary.

 

2. (U) From January 13-16, Represenative Paul Gillmor

(R-OH) led a bi-partiisan congressional delegation to

Thailand which included Jerry Costello (D-IL), Sam Johnson

(R-TX), Kay Granger (R-TX), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Greg

Walden (R-OR) and Bobby Jindal (R-LA). On January 16, the

delegation called on Parliament Speaker Bhokin Bhalakula, and

then met jointly with Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and

Foreign Minister Kantathi Suphamongkhon.

 

FREE TRADE, FREE PRESS, FREE BEEF

———————————

 

3. (C) Prime Minister Thaksin spoke confidently about

progress on FTA negotiations. He advised the CODEL that it

is best not to read reports in the Thai newspapers,

particularly the Bangkok Post and the Nation, which he

described as \”readable, but not quotable.\” Thaksin went on

to accuse the print media of attempting to fill the void left

by his weak political opposition. Rep. Gillmor expressed

concern that the FTA would not reach Congress before the next

election cycle. Thaksin responded that there are only 2-3

issues remaining to sort out, and that the agreement should

be concluded on schedule. (Comment: The PM\’s comments are far

too optimistic; at a minimum, we do not believe that the FTA

talks can be finished on schedule, i.e. by the end of April.

End comment)

 

4. (SBU) The Ambassador took the opportunity to remind

Thaksin that the RTG has yet to act on lifting the ban on US

beef imports. Thaksin appeared surprised that the ban was

still in place and stated that the matter is \”long overdue\”.

He promised that this would be topic number one in his weekly

Cabinet meeting.

 

5. (C) Rep. Granger asked Thaksin if he would guarantee

similar attention to the RTG,s prospective purchase of

F-16s. Thaksin stated that he had assured President Bush and

Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld of this purchase during his

 

SIPDIS

visit to Washington. He said that they are currently looking

into payment options, but assured the delegation that the

purchase would move forward.

 

STRONG WORDS FOR BURMA

———————-

 

6. (C) When asked about Burma, Thaksin voiced growing

frustration with the SPDC,s lack of progress toward

democracy and its increasing isolation. Thaksin said that he

recently complained to his Burmese counterpart saying \”We are

uncomfortable as neighbors: you never inform, respect or

consider your ASEAN neighbors\”. He said that he warned the

Burmese Prime Minister, \”You should not isolate yourself.

The only person who can make decisions doesn,t come out of

the country. You will become like North Korea.\” Both

Thaksin and Foreign Minister Kantathi admitted that they were

surprised by the SPDC\’s sudden move to its capital city.

Thaksin compared the move to a company with a negative

balance sheet deciding to build a large, new headquarters

office. Foreign Minister Kantathi assured the delegation

that he will continue to voice the RTG,s mounting

frustration with Burma when he meets his counterpart in

Chiang Rai next week. At the Ambassador\’s request, Kantathi

committed to impress on the Burmese that Malaysian FM Syed

Hamid must be allowed to visit Burma soon.

 

7. (C) Thaksin explained to Gillmor that, though Thailand

wants to help spread democracy to Burma, it must take a

different approach than the US. He said that, as neighbors,

they must keep an open dialogue and continue cooperation with

Burma on such issues as combating the illicit drug trade.

 

PSI OBSTACLE

 

BANGKOK 00000429 002 OF 002

 

————

 

8. (C) Responding to Rep. Costello,s inquiry on the status

of Thailand\’s endorsement of the Proliferation Security

Initiative (PSI) Statement of Interdiction Principals,

Thaksin stated that Thailand is ready to endorse, but does

not want to agitate the Muslim population in the South. He

said that he felt the US should focus on getting some of

ASEAN,s Muslim countries to sign agreements first. He

specifically mentioned Indonesia and Malaysia.

 

DID SOMEONE CALL FOR A DOCTOR?

——————————

 

9. (SBU) Asked about his most recent anti-poverty initiative,

Thaksin quipped, \”Poor families have economic illness, and

I,m the Doctor.\” He explained that he was going out to meet

with poor families, look at their assets, their debts, their

expenses, etc. and then develop case studies and solutions

that can be applied to poor families across the country. He

boasted that he is confident that he can solve the problem of

poverty within the next three years.

 

MEETING WITH THE PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER

————————————–

 

11. (U) CODEL Gillmor also called on the Thai Parliamentary

Speaker, Mr. Bhokin Bhalakula. Congressman Gillmor

complimented Thailand on its efforts to cooperate with the

USG to combat the illegal drug trade, and noted that the two

countries needed to \”stick together\” on issues of democracy.

Bhokin told the delegation that while \”some say we have

limited freedom of expression\” in Thailand, \”even the Prime

Minister can be criticized.\” Bhokin noted that independent

organizations such as the National Counter Corruption

Commission (NCCC) serve as \’checks\’ on all three branches of

Thai government. (COMMENT: This is a rather rosy assessment

of the work of the NCCC, which has been hindered by

bureaucratic obstacles and other problems. In 2004, NCCC\’s

entire leadership had to resign after being indicted for

granting themselves an illegal pay raise; the resulting

turmoil paralyzed NCCC for over a year. END COMMENT)

 

12. (U) Congressmen Gillmor and Costello pointed out that the

oversight authority of the House of Representatives over

free-trade agreements would expire in 2007. Congressman

Kucinich noted that failure to pass such an agreement might

not necessarily be a bad thing. Bhokin noted that Thailand

had successfully concluded free-trade agreements with a

number of countries, and believed that one would be

successfully negotiated with the United States. Congressman

Walden asked whether there was pending legislative action to

lift the ban on U.S. beef, in line with comments made by

Prime Minister Thaksin. Bhokin noted that high-quality

American beef was available throughout Thailand (presumably

frozen meat imported before the ban), but conceded that the

Thai market was not yet open to new beef imports.

 

13. (C) In response to a question on Burma, Bhokin admitted

that Burma was \”very embarrassing\” for Thailand. He explained

that Thailand maintained a policy of seeking good relations

with all of its neighbors. He noted that ASEAN members

\”forced Burma not to accept\” the chairmanship of ASEAN and

said that the organization was naturally frustrated that

Burma had \”refused\” a previously agreed upon visit from the

Malaysian FM, Congressman Gillmor asked if China\’s recent

military buildup concerned Thailand. Bhokin said that China\’s

overall motivations were peaceful, and that the crux of the

problem was that the US and Chinese governments did not trust

each other.

 

14. (U) CODEL Gillmor did not have the opportunity to clear

this message.

BOYCE

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Written by thaicables

July 10, 2011 at 3:53 am

Posted in Confidential, Thaksin

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