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08BANGKOK3227 AMBASSADOR ENGAGES THAI FM SOMPONG ON CAMBODIA, BURMA, ASEAN, APEC, VIKTOR BOUT, HMONG, AND THE PAD

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“175493”,”10/28/2008 8:42″,”08BANGKOK3227″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,

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“C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 003227

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR PHU, STATE FOR EAP/MLS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/28/2018

TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PREF, BMGT, CB, TH

SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR ENGAGES THAI FM SOMPONG ON CAMBODIA,

BURMA, ASEAN, APEC, VIKTOR BOUT, HMONG, AND THE PAD

 

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

 

1. (C) Summary: Ambassador, accompanied by DCM and

PolCounselor, met with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign

Minister Sompong Amornvivat late October 27. Fresh from the

ASEM meetings in Beijing October 23-25, FM Sompong described

the positive atmosphere of Thai-Cambodian meetings and

highlighted hopes that the Thai parliament would approve the

interim arrangement October 28, allowing the Joint Border

Committee (JBC) to proceed with negotiations. PM Somchai and

Sompong will attend APEC meetings in Peru in late November;

with Thailand currently serving as ASEAN Chair, Sompong

welcomed the opportunity for another ASEAN 7 meeting with the

President.

 

2. (C) Ambassador raised U.S. concerns on Burma, Viktor

Bout\’s extradition, and Lao Hmong. On Burma, Sompong said he

would look for indirect ways of promoting democratic

development, such as offering Thai assistance/training on

local administration elections, since pressing anything

labeled \”democracy\” on the Burmese would be rejected. On

Bout, Sompong acknowledged our interest but noted the Thai

justice system would need to finish its review. On Hmong,

Sompong stressed the importance of proceeding with returns to

Laos on a voluntary basis, and noted that third country

resettlement would require Lao agreement. Sompong confirmed

the Thai are scouting logistics to hold the ASEAN Summit

meetings in Chiang Mai rather than Bangkok in December, and

joked that accommodating the People\’s Alliance for Democracy

(PAD) anti-government protests had become a normal part of

daily life. End Summary

 

Cambodia – back to talking

————————–

3. (C) FM Sompong launched into an animated account of what

he characterized as calm and fruitful meetings with Cambodian

PM Hun Sen and FM Hor Namhong in Beijing October 24, on the

margins of the ASEM summit. The Thai and Cambodians agreed

to proceed on the basis of bilateral mechanisms; while the

Thai had braced for more contentious meetings, Hun Sen had

framed the issues in a way that matched the Thai approach,

according to Sompong. Both sides agreed to try to avoid

another confrontation similar to the armed clash on October

15.

 

4, (C) Ambassador noted media accounts of Cambodian

allegations that the Preah Vihear temple had suffered damage

in the Oct. 15 clash. Sompong claimed that Cambodian troops

on the grounds of the temple had fired on Thai troops,

acknowledged Thai soldiers returning fire with small arms may

have caused some limited damage, but stressed the Thai had

not employed RPGs (Note: Separately on October 27, MFA

PermSec Virasak Futrakul claimed to the media that Cambodia

may have violated the terms of the UNESCO World Heritage

listing of Preah Vihear by stationing soldiers/heavy weapons

on site at the temple).

 

5. (C) Sompong noted Cambodian irritation at the delays on

the Thai side in moving forward with the interim agreement.

He hoped the problem would be rectified October 28, when the

Thai parliament was scheduled to review the interim agreement

(note: negotiated in September by then-FM Tej Bunnag). As

soon as the parliament acted, Sompong would call his

counterpart to relaunch JBC negotiations; a Ministerial would

follow. Hor Namhong had told him in Beijing that, of the

73-odd border posts along the Thai-Cambodian border, 50 were

set; negotiations would focus on the remaining 20-25.

Sompong said he was working closely with Royal Thai Army

Commander Anupong Paojinda to coordinate Thai positions.

 

APEC – ASEAN 7 in Lima, ASEAN in Chiang Mai

——————————————-

6. (SBU) Sompong confirmed that PM Somchai and he planned to

attend the APEC summit in Lima, Peru in late November. There

would be follow-on meetings between ASEAN and MERCOSUR in

Brasilia, he added. Since Thailand currently served as ASEAN

Chair, Thailand would be very interested in another ASEAN 7

meeting with the President; Sompong noted that MFA PermSec

Virsakdi Futrakul had previously raised Thai interest in such

a meeting with EAP DAS Marciel.

 

BANGKOK 00003227 002 OF 002

 

7. (SBU) Sompong also confirmed that the Thai were now

planning to host the series of ASEAN-related summit meetings

in December in Chiang Mai rather than Bangkok and had sent

logistics teams to Chiang Mai to scout out appropriate

venues. Sompong joked that Chiang Mai\’s lovely cool season

weather, not Bangkok\’s hot politics or his own Chiang Mai

roots, was the driving factor.

 

8. (SBU) Rounding out discussion of regional meetings,

Sompong said that Finance Ministers and Central Bank

Governors of Asian countries would meet in the Philippines

November 12 to discuss coordinated policy responses to the

financial crisis, building on meetings in Beijing. Sompong

foresaw that a slowdown in Thai exports due to economic

difficulties elsewhere could drive up unemployment.

 

Burma – taking an indirect approach

———————————–

9. (C) Ambassador noted that October 24 marked a total of 13

years of house arrest for Aung San Suu Kyi and pressed FM

Sompong to use every opportunity to advocate for the release

of all Burmese political prisoners and to foster a more open

political atmosphere. Sompong pledged to try to raise the

\”concerns of friends\” when he met with Burmese officials.

Sompong suggested that the reaction of the international

community after Cyclone Nargis had changed Burma a little

bit.

 

10. (C) In the Beijing meeting with FM Nyan Win, Win had

asked Sompong for Thai support; Sompong said he replied that

such actions needed to be reciprocal. He had told Win that

Thailand was ready to help, suggesting that Thailand could

share valuable experience with local administration

development/elections. This indirect approach avoided the

word \”democracy,\” since the Burmese stiffened at the mere

mention of it. Win had thanked Sompong, and replied that if

Burma needed assistance, they would ask. Sompong said that

he would travel to Burma soon; he solicited ideas/indirect

phrases that might help nudge Burmese thinking in the right

direction.

 

Viktor Bout – under judicial review

———————————–

11. (C) Ambassador raised U.S. interest in the eventual

successful extradition of notorious Russians arms trafficker

Viktor Bout once the Thai judicial review was complete, an

issue he and Sompong had discussed when Sompong was Justice

Minister. Sompong acknowledged U.S. interest but stressed

that Thai ministers could do little as long as the matter

remained under judicial review.

 

Lao Hmong – only voluntary returns

———————————-

12. (C) Ambassador noted recent progress made with engaging

the Thai military on Lao Hmong in Thailand but stressed the

importance of adequate third-party monitoring and

transparency; there was heightened interest on the part of

U.S. relatives and Congress in this matter. Sompong related

his recent trip to Laos, claimed that the Thai would not send

back any Hmong against their will, only on a voluntary basis,

and stated that Thailand would take care of them in the

meanwhile. Third-country resettlement would need to be

arranged with the Lao, he added. Sompong noted that a number

of NGOs had raised Hmong-related issues when meeting with him.

 

Domestic politics: living with PAD

———————————-

13. (C) Sompong chortled when Ambassador raised the road

forward domestically given the ongoing People\’s Alliance for

Democracy\’s (PAD) occupation of Government House: \”we feel

much easier now; the PAD has become part of our daily lives.\”

Sompong suggested the Thai government should not take any

drastic steps, while needing to maintain law and order. \”One

day they will move out (of Government House), though who

knows when.\” Sompong said he had assured all of his

bilateral interlocutors in Beijing that the PAD action did

not prevent the Thai government from working and would have

no affect on ASEAN summit plans for December.

JOHN

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Written by thaicables

July 19, 2011 at 6:11 am

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