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08BANGKOK2837 DAS MARCIEL DISCUSSES ASEAN, BURMA AND BORDER ISSUES IN MEETINGS WITH THAI MFA AND SURIN

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“170341”,”9/18/2008 7:34″,”08BANGKOK2837″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,

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SECTION 01 OF 03 BANGKOK 002837

 

SIPDIS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/18/2018

TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PHUM, PINR, KDEM, PREF, TH

SUBJECT: DAS MARCIEL DISCUSSES ASEAN, BURMA AND BORDER

ISSUES IN MEETINGS WITH THAI MFA AND SURIN

 

REF: BANGKOK 2487

 

BANGKOK 00002837 001.2 OF 003

 

Classified By: Ambassador Eric G. John, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

 

1. (C) Summary. Thai MFA Permanent Secretary Virasakdi

Futrakul told visiting EAP DAS Scot Marciel and the

Ambassador September 9 that the RTG viewed recent Cambodian

border actions as contradictory to progress achieved during

recent discussions by the two nations\’ Foreign Ministers.

Virasakdi said that the RTG was actively planning for the

December ASEAN Summit and hoped that the ASEAN Charter would

be ratified by all member nations by the end of 2008. In a

separate meeting, ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan laid

out goals for further ASEAN economic integration and

improvements in the effectiveness of the ASEAN Secretariat.

DAS Marciel pressed Virasakdi for international monitoring of

the Hmong resettlement process in order that legitimate

safety concerns of the refugees could be addressed. End

Summary.

 

THAI-CAMBODIAN BORDER REMAINS CONTENTIOUS

—————————————–

 

2. (C) MFA Permanent Secretary Virasakdi Futrakul told EAP

DAS Scot Marciel and the Ambassador September 9 that

significant progress had been made in resolving the

Thai-Cambodian border conflict. Virasakdi expressed optimism

that the Joint Border Committee would assist in furthering

progress on disputed areas at Preah Vihear and Ta Muen

temples (reftel). Thai Parliament approval was needed before

proceeding, however. Virasakdi expressed frustration that,

despite progress, the Cambodian government had recently sent

seventy troops to occupy the Ta Krabey temple (Ta Kwai in

Thai), which is approximately fifteen kilometers from Ta

Moan. Cambodian actions were an attempt to take advantage of

the political conflict in Bangkok, Virasakdi asserted. The

RTG would resist a Cambodian attempt to take the border

dispute to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) based on

the precedent of using colonial maps drawn by the French.

Taking the case to the ICJ would poison the Thai-Cambodian

relationship; if this occurred, no Thai government would be

able to agree with Cambodia regarding overlapping oil claims

in the Gulf of Thailand. Virasakdi said the RTG would look

to the U.S. for support if the Cambodian government took the

issue to the UN Security Council. DAS Marciel explained that

the USG hoped that Thailand and Cambodia would resolve the

issue peacefully and bilaterally.

 

THAI GOALS FOR ASEAN

——————–

 

3. (C) Virasakdi said that the RTG was busy preparing for the

December ASEAN Summit; the Summit would be followed by the

ASEAN plus 3 meeting and the East Asia Summit. Virasakdi

said the RTG hoped to organize an ASEAN-United Nations Summit

and had invited World Bank President Robert Zoellick to

attend as well. Virasakdi hoped that the leaders of the

seven ASEAN countries that are APEC members (Brunei,

Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand,

and Vietnam) would be able to meet with President Bush at the

APEC meeting in Peru this November. Virasakdi also expressed

hope that a U.S.-ASEAN Science and Technology Agreement could

be signed at APEC.

 

4. (C) Virasakdi told DAS Marciel that while Indonesia and

the Philippines had yet to ratify the ASEAN Charter, he was

optimistic that the Indonesian government would ratify the

Charter soon. (Note. The Thai Parliament on September 16

passed the final implementing legislation necessary to

deposit its ratification of the Charter with the Secretariat.

End note.) Virasakdi acknowledged doubts that the

Philippines would ratify the Charter before the end of the

year, but said ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan was

actively lobbying the Philippine Senate Foreign Relations

Committee. Virasakdi joked that his workload would be easier

if the Charter were not ratified, because Vietnam would then

take over as chair for ASEAN from Thailand in July 2009

rather than at the end of 2009.

 

BANGKOK 00002837 002.2 OF 003

 

5. (C) DAS Marciel asked Virasakdi about RTG goals as ASEAN

chair. The RTG\’s primary hopes were to finalize ASEAN

blueprints for political-security and social issues,

Virasakdi said. Forging consensus on a ASEAN human rights

body was also a goal, Virasakdi said, but there currently was

disagreement on the terms of reference for the organization.

(Note: In a separate meeting, Kavi Chongkittavorn, Assistant

Group Editor of the Nation Multimedia Group, told DAS Marciel

that the Vietnamese government had resisted granting power to

the ASEAN human rights body. End note.)

 

6. (C) Virasakdi said that Sec-Gen Surin would soon propose a

restructured ASEAN Secretariat, one that Surin hoped would be

more effective and proactive. The proposed restructured

organization would require an increased budget, and ASEAN

member countries would meet soon in Hanoi to discuss member

contributions. After the APEC meeting in November, ASEAN

foreign ministers would meet with MERCOSUR counterparts to

explore cooperation between the two bodies. ASEAN could also

cooperate with ASEAN Regional Forum nations to develop a

Standard Operating Plan for disaster management.

 

RESETTLEMENT OF HMONG UNRESOLVED

——————————–

 

7. (C) DAS Marciel pressed Virasakdi for international

monitoring of the resettlement process for Hmong refugees

from Thailand. Virasakdi said the RTG was trying to convince

the Lao government to accept a role for the International

Organization of Migration in resettling the Hmong, but the

Lao government had refused to agree to third party

involvement. Laos may consider third country resettlement

but had set conditions that had halted progress. Foreign

governments would have to negotiate agreements directly with

the Lao government, and the Hmong would have to return to

Laos to be issued Lao passports in advance of departing to a

third country. DAS Marciel stressed the importance of

transparency in the resettlement process in order to address

safety concerns of the Hmong. Virasakdi suggested that the

USG engage the Lao Permanent Representative in Geneva, as he

had previously been the official primarily responsible for

the Hmong issue.

 

BURMESE POLITICAL SITUATION

—————————

 

8. (C) DAS Marciel stressed to Virasakdi that the

international community must continue to pressure the Burmese

regime for real political progress in advance of the 2010

elections. Considering the Burmese regime\’s actions during

the constitutional referendum, the USG considered prospects

for fair elections negligible. Virasakdi said there were two

viewpoints on the coming elections: one side believed that an

election would be better than nothing, while others agreed

that the elections would not be fair. DAS Marciel told

Virasakdi that the USG would continue to press the Burmese

regime to allow all Burmese a voice in determining their

government.

 

SURIN PRESSING FOR CHANGE IN ASEAN

———————————-

 

9. (C) In a separate meeting, ASEAN Secretary-General Surin

told DAS Marciel that his priority for ASEAN was furthering

economic integration. Surin said he was working with ASEAN

Foreign Ministers to try to provide for more flexibility for

the ASEAN Secretariat. This would allow the Secretariat to

interact more effectively with the public, civil society, and

the business sector in ASEAN nations. Surin would continue

to press ASEAN leaders to expand dialogue at the East Asian

Summit in December to include discussions on food and energy

security and climate change.

 

10. (C) DAS Marciel suggested that ASEAN better incorporate

the business community into ASEAN affairs. Surin agreed that

this was an area that needed attention and cited the

U.S.-ASEAN Business Council as a good example. Surin said

the Japanese were trying to organize a ASEAN Chamber of

Commerce; the ASEAN Secretariat would promote intra-ASEAN

 

BANGKOK 00002837 003.2 OF 003

 

investment and trade registration.

 

11. (C) Surin said ASEAN would continue efforts to help

Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Burma bridge the development gap

with richer ASEAN nations. DAS Marciel cited U.S. assistance

to prepare Laos for possible WTO accession as an example of

sound economic development policy. Surin agreed that ASEAN\’s

less-developed nations must follow good economic policies, as

ASEAN would not be able to rely on richer member countries

such as Singapore and Brunei for assistance. Surin said that

rational development strategy must work with existing

regional architectures, such as the Mekong River Commission,

the Initiative for ASEAN Integration, and other

organizations. Considering the global food situation, Surin

said that developing the Irrawaddy Delta region into a new

\”rice bowl\” would benefit the Burmese people and possibly

assist political change. DAS Marciel suggested that Vietnam

could possibly be utilized by ASEAN as a model for

implementing agricultural reforms.

 

12. (C) DAS Marciel stressed to Surin that continued

engagement with the Burmese regime would need to be

predicated on the regime taking positive political steps.

Surin said that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon may try to

visit Burma in conjunction with the December ASEAN Summit and

that UN Under-Secretary for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe was

trying to lay the groundwork for a positive visit.

 

13. (U) DAS Marciel has cleared this cable.

JOHN

Written by thaicables

July 19, 2011 at 5:49 am

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