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06BANGKOK524 F-16: AMBASSADOR RAISES WITH PM THAKSIN

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“50856”,”1/27/2006 7:00″,”06BANGKOK524″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,

“VZCZCXYZ0002

OO RUEHWEB

 

DE RUEHBK #0524/01 0270700

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 270700Z JAN 06

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5962

INFO RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 1105

RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC

RUEKJCS/JCS WASHDC

RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI

RHMFISS/HQ PACAF HICKAM AFB HI

RHFJSCC/COMMARFORPAC

RUEAHQA/SAF WASHDC”,”C O N F I D E N T I A L BANGKOK 000524

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/MLS MHIGGINS

OSD/ISA FOR BGEN ALLEN

PACOM FOR FPA HUSO

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/27/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PREL, MARR, TH

SUBJECT: F-16: AMBASSADOR RAISES WITH PM THAKSIN

 

REF: BANGKOK 500 AND PREVIOUS

 

Classified By: Ambassador Ralph L. Boyce. Reason 1.4 (a and d)

 

1. (C) Summary. Both Prime Minister Thaksin and his Chief

Policy Advisor indicated to the Ambassador on January 26 that

the RTG is leaning towards purchasing mid-life upgrades

(MLUs) from Lockheed Martin for its F-16 fighter fleet as

well as procuring some SU-30 fighter aircraft, probably

through barter trade, as a way to improve economic links with

Russia. The Ambassador reminded the PM that, in his meetings

with the President and Secretary Rumsfeld in September,

Thaksin left the distinct impression that he would not/not

procure Russian aircraft. The Ambassador told Thaksin that

acquiring SU-30s could make it more difficult for the United

States to release sensitive technologies to Thailand that

might be compromised and suggested that it might affect

Thaksin\’s relationship with senior U.S. officials, especially

in light of the implied assurances he provided earlier. End

Summary.

 

KEY THAI OFFICIAL SUGGESTS THAILAND HOPES TO SATISFY BOTH THE

UNITED STATES AND RUSSIA

 

2. (C) At a January 26 reception, the Ambassador pulled

aside Pansak Vinyaratn, Chief Policy Advisor to the Prime

Minister, to express his concern — based on recent articles

in the Thai press and discussions (reftel) with senior Thai

military officials — that suggested Thailand planned to

purchase MLUs from Lockheed Martin as well as conclude a

barter deal with Russia for SU-30s. While expressing

satisfaction over the possible MLU purchase, the Ambassador

reminded Pansak that Thaksin had left the impression with the

President and Secretary Rumsfeld that Thailand would not/not

procure Russian planes.

 

3. (C) Pansak as much as confirmed our suspicions by saying

\”don\’t worry, the Russian planes would be kept completely

separated from our American aircraft.\” The Ambassador seized

on Pansak\’s remarks, telling him that a Russian procurement

would create practical problems that could jeopardize future

transfers of sensitive U.S. technologies to Thailand, hurt

U.S.-Thai interoperability, and possibly affect Thailand\’s

ability to eventually procure the Joint Strike Fighter.

 

THAKSIN SEES THE PROCUREMENT SOLELY IN POLITICAL TERMS

 

4. (C) Later that day, at the Mahidol Awards Ceremony

hosted by the King, the Ambassador pursued the issue at

length with the Prime Minister, suggesting that such a

procurement could become a bilateral problem. The Ambassador

told Thaksin that the Prime Minister had left senior U.S.

officials, including the President himself, with the clear

impression that Thailand would not procure Russian aircraft.

The Ambassador reminded Thaksin that, during their September

meeting, the President had strongly encouraged Thaksin not

only to buy from Lockheed Martin but also not to buy any

Russian planes. Later, during his meeting with Secretary

Rumsfeld, Thaksin had commented on what an effective

presentation the President had made and left a clear

impression that he would not procure Russian planes. The

Ambassador suggested that, in light of those implied

assurances, any acquisition of SU-30s could hurt Thaksin\’s

standing with the White House and the Pentagon.

 

5. (C) Thaksin unconvincingly responded that \”I never said

yes or no to the President,\” and explained that he was simply

hoping to open the Russian market to Thai goods.

Nonetheless, it was clear by his expression and manner that

Thaksin understood the seriousness of this issue.

 

6. (C) The Ambassador explained that fighter aircraft

purchases by treaty allies are a \”hot button\” issue for us at

all times and suggested that Thaksin find other ways to

improve his relationship with Russia that would not come at

the expense of his relationship with the United States.

 

COMMENT

 

7. (C) It is clear that Thaksin has made a political

promise to President Putin to procure Russian aircraft. It

is unclear whether he can recast his commitment to Moscow —

perhaps by purchasing other Russian equipment — in a way

that will not affect the fighter sale. We are also uncertain

how large a potential procurement of SU-30s is being

contemplated, but every indication is that it will be much

smaller than the likely deal with Lockheed Martin. RTAF

sources suggest they might procure as few as six aircraft.

Post seeks instructions from the Department on next steps and

whether it would be possible for a senior U.S. official to

either call or send a letter to Thaksin and reinforce the

points the Ambassador made.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 10, 2011 at 3:54 am

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