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08BANGKOK2940 ENGAGING NEW THAI FM SOMPONG AT UNGA: THE CURRENT U.S. AGENDA WITH THAILAND

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“171603”,”9/26/2008 9:46″,”08BANGKOK2940″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”SECRET”,

“08BANGKOK2854|08BANGKOK2882″,”VZCZCXRO2249

OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM

DE RUEHBK #2940/01 2700946

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O 260946Z SEP 08

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4497

RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 5377

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY

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RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 6367

RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 4919

RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 1062

RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI PRIORITY 5669

RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC PRIORITY

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY

RHHMUNA/USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI PRIORITY

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY”,

“S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 BANGKOK 002940

 

SIPDIS

 

DOJ FOR OFFICE OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/26/2018

TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PREF, PHUM, KDEM, KJUS, ETRD, UNGA, TH

SUBJECT: ENGAGING NEW THAI FM SOMPONG AT UNGA: THE CURRENT

U.S. AGENDA WITH THAILAND

 

REF: A. BANGKOK 2882 (AMBASSADOR MEETS PM)

B. BANGKOK 2854 (THAI-CAMBODIAN DISPUTE)

 

BANGKOK 00002940 001.2 OF 003

 

Classified By: DCM James F. Entwistle, reason: 1.4 (b, d)

 

SUMMARY

——-

1. (C) Newly-inaugurated Deputy Prime Minister Sompong

Amornwiwat, who serves concurrently as Foreign Minister, will

make a short visit to UNGA/New York, arriving late September

27 with meetings on September 29-30. Post recommends an

appropriate USG high-level interlocutor meet with Sompong in

New York, given the wide range of important matters on our

agenda with Thailand, and in recognition of 175 years of

US-Siamese/Thai relations, our oldest formal relationship in

Asia. Issues which could be raised with Sompong include: the

extradition of Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout; the

deployment of Thai troops to Darfur; pressing Thailand to

support reform in Burma; protection of Lao Hmong in Thailand

who seek refugee status; calming Thai-Cambodian tensions;

Thailand\’s chairmanship of ASEAN; support for Thai democracy;

and the southern separatist insurgency. We recommend U/S

Burns or A/S Hill meet with DPM/FM Sompong; Attorney General

Mukasey may wish to call Sompong on the Bout case, since the

two talked during Mukasey\’s June 10-11 visit to Bangkok, when

Sompong was Justice Minister. End Summary.

 

BOUT EXTRADITION

—————-

2. (S) The Ambassador stressed to new PM Somchai September 22

that one of our top bilateral priorities is the extradition

of Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout, in Thai custody since

March. In his August visit to Bangkok, President Bush raised

this matter with then-PM Samak. Attorney General Mukasey

discussed the Bout case with then-FM Noppadol and officials

from the Office of the Attorney General in June. We are

concerned by a Thai court\’s recent denial of our request for

the extradition of Jamshid Ghassemi, an Iranian who conspired

to illegally obtain controlled technology from the United

States (ref A). We have noted our respect for Thai judicial

processes but believe firmly that Thailand should extradite

Bout, a notorious arms trafficker who had targeted Americans

and supported terrorists, once the judicial review concludes.

 

DARFUR DEPLOYMENT

—————–

3. (SBU) After the Thai pledged a battalion peacekeepers for

UNAMID in October 2007, the RTG has been waiting for Sudanese

government approval for Thai troops to deploy to Darfur. We

understand that Sudanese government recently told the UN that

Thai troops could deploy after Egyptian and Ethiopian

infantry battalions deploy to Darfur. Both the MFA and the

Peacekeeping Operations Center at the Royal Thai Armed Forces

Headquarters confirmed to us that they are planning to

fulfill the pledge to UNAMID. With the long interim since

the pledge was approved by the Cabinet, however, the RTG will

need to allocate a budget for the deployment, and the Thai

military will need to re-train troops. The latest estimate

from the Thai military is that they would not be ready to

deploy before February. (Note: Septel will provide further

detail on this issue.) We have urged the RTG to begin

preparations as soon as possible so that Thai troops are

ready when authorization has been provided by Sudan and the

UNDPKO.

 

BURMA

—–

4. (C) When the People\’s Power Party (PPP)-led governing

coalition first formed an administration in February 2008,

then-FM Noppadol advocated \”neighborly engagement\” with

Burma, with which Thailand shares a long porous border,

provides refuge for hundreds of thousands of displaced

 

BANGKOK 00002940 002.2 OF 003

 

persons and employment for up to 2 million other Burmese, and

on which Thailand depends for a significant portion of its

energy needs. Thailand currently appears unwilling to press

the Burmese junta to carry out reforms, although in extreme

circumstances (such as the repression of the Saffron Uprising

last year) the Thais have been willing to criticize egregious

acts of the GOB. Thailand also helpfully pressed the GOB to

allow international aid for areas hit hard by Cyclone Nargis

and served as a platform for U.S. and UN aid deliveries into

Burma.

 

5. (C) The Thais are understandably concerned about the

negative impact on the Thai jewelry industry of the JADE

(Junta\’s Anti-Democratic Efforts) Act. Our hope is that

Thailand will do more to join the effort to pressure the

junta for change, and not simply see the Act as an unfair

trade matter to be taken to the WTO. We should encourage

Sompong to work with us towards a democratic transition in

Burma, while understanding their challenges in managing a

complex neighborly relationship and concerns about JADE Act

implementation.

 

LAO-HMONG

———

6. (SBU) Thailand has a long history of providing sanctuary

to people from neighboring states who are fleeing

persecution. In recent months, however, we have been

concerned by the RTG\’s return to Laos of 1400 Lao Hmong

awaiting screening for claims of refugee status. The RTG

claimed these individuals returned voluntarily, and that the

vast majority of the Hmong do not meet international criteria

as refugees, but the procedures the RTG used did not meet

UNHCR standards for voluntary movements. There was no

independent third party monitor to ensure that returnees sign

affidavits of voluntariness and had an opportunity to change

their minds. A closed government screening process to

identify those who might face persecution has been similarly

opaque. While thanking the Thais for their traditional

hospitality to neighboring populations, we have stressed the

need for transparency and proper third-party monitoring in

any return of Lao Hmong, as well as in the vetting process

undertaken without UNHCR involvement.

 

TENSION WITH CAMBODIA

———————

7. (SBU) In July and August, Thai-Cambodian tension rose

substantially after the inscription of the Preah Vihear

temple on UNESCO\’s World Heritage list. The International

Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that the temple is situated in

Cambodia, a decision Thailand respects, but the two countries

dispute control of the surrounding territory, and the Thais

felt that the inscription provided recognition of Cambodian

claim to the area. With opposition forces in Thailand

seeking to put pressure on the RTG, and with elections

approaching in Cambodia, the issue became highly politicized

in both countries, and both governments built up their

military presence in the border area. Bilateral talks and

the passage of time helped reduce the tension, and both sides

drew down their forces at Preah Vihear, but focus has now

shifted to two other temples elsewhere along the border: Ta

Kwai and Ta Muen (see ref B). We have continually reminded

the RTG that we urge a bilateral diplomatic resolution to

this ongoing dispute.

 

THAI CHAIRMANSHIP OF ASEAN

————————–

8. (SBU) Thailand assumed the chairmanship of the Association

of Southeast Asian Nations in July. If the ASEAN Charter is

ratified by all members and comes into force, Thailand will

hold the chairmanship until the end of 2009. During this

transition period for ASEAN, Thailand can play a more

critical than usual in leading on key regional issues, such

as the Southeast Asian policy toward reform in Burma,

 

BANGKOK 00002940 003.2 OF 003

 

establishing an ASEAN human rights body, and empowering civil

society throughout ASEAN, not just in its leading

democracies. Thailand\’s domestic political turmoil has

limited its ability to launch its term as ASEAN Chair with

vigorous leadership, but we have nevertheless frequently

voiced our support for Thailand\’s chairmanship.

 

THAI DEMOCRACY – A SOCIETY DIVIDED

———————————-

9. (SBU) The current coalition has been challenged by a group

of ardent protesters, the People\’s Alliance for Democracy

(PAD), which originally formed in 2006 to push for the ouster

of then-Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. (Thaksin is

currently in the U.K., having chosen to flee abroad rather

than to face court proceedings relating to alleged abuse of

power.) The PAD resumed its protests over the Samak

government in May in the wake of the Preah Vihear

controversy. PAD protesters stormed Government House, the

formal seat of government, August 26, and have been ensconced

there ever since, despite Samak stepping down September 9

after a conflict-of-interest court decision. The RTG has

been reluctant to use force to evict the protesters, fearing

a violent clash, which could prompt calls for military

intervention in politics. Despite widespread Thai

appreciation for democracy, there is also significant

sentiment favoring the use of undemocratic means to block

Thaksin and his allies from power or restructure the nature

of Thai elected government. We have consistently called for

the standoff between the RTG and PAD to be resolved

peacefully, within the framework of the constitution and the

rule of law, and, when appropriate, reminded interlocutors

that we would strongly oppose any military intervention in

politics.

 

THE SOUTHERN INSURGENCY

———————–

10. (C) An ethno-nationalist separatist insurgency by Malay

Muslims in Thailand\’s far south remains perhaps the country\’s

primary security challenge. Since January 2004, over 3000

people have been killed in the conflict; the violence is

having a growing influence on the local economy as tourism,

cross border trade, and investment have declined. The RTG

maintains the situation in southern Thailand is a purely

domestic issue and is wary of any outside involvement,

particularly from the U.S. Although there have been

inquiries from disparate RTG entities regarding assistance

and training specifically for the south, these appear to not

have been coordinated at the national level. The RTG has

been somewhat successful in managing the violence in the

southern provinces through more professional actions by

security forces, but we have no indication the RTG is ready

to address the core social justice issues or to offer

concessions necessary to end the insurgency. We remain

concerned about continuing allegations of human rights

abuses. Our message has been one of willingness to help when

asked, but understanding of Thai concerns about outside

involvement.

JOHN

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Written by thaicables

July 19, 2011 at 5:57 am

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