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08BANGKOK3757 AMBASSADOR ENGAGES NEW THAI FM KASIT ON ASEAN, BURMA, CAMBODIA, BOUT, THE SOUTH, REFUGEES, IPR, AND CL

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“184976”,”12/29/2008 11:07″,”08BANGKOK3757″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,

“08BANGKOK3707″,”VZCZCXRO5908

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FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

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RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

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RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY

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RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI 6015″,”C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 BANGKOK 003757

 

SIPDIS

 

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E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/29/2018

TAGS: ETRD, PGOV, PHUM, PREF, PREL, PTER, TH

SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR ENGAGES NEW THAI FM KASIT ON ASEAN,

BURMA, CAMBODIA, BOUT, THE SOUTH, REFUGEES, IPR, AND CL

 

REF: BANGKOK 03707

 

BANGKOK 00003757 001.2 OF 004

 

Classified By: DEPUTY CHIEF OF MISSION JAMES F. ENTWISTLE, REASONS 1.4

(b) and (d).

 

Summary and Comment:

———————

 

1. (C) Summary: On December 26, Ambassador, accompanied by

DCM and poloff, paid a courtesy call on newly appointed

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya. The Ambassador was the first

member of Thailand\’s diplomatic community to call on Kasit.

He congratulated Kasit on his appointment and took the

opportunity to highlight a range of political and economic

issues high on the U.S. policy agenda, including compulsory

licensing (CL) and intellectual property rights (IPR) issues,

Burma, refugees, southern Thailand, and Viktor Bout. While

reaffirming the importance the U.S. places on the bilateral

relationship with Thailand, the Ambassador emphasized the

need for continued forward movement on these issues. In

closing the discussion, the Ambassador told Kasit that,

although the U.S. supports free speech and peaceful

demonstrations in support of political change, the PAD,s

airport seizure had hurt Thailand\’s image. Kasit agreed.

 

2. (C) Summary continued: FM Kasit responded by saying that

he looked forward to a close and constructive relationship

with the U.S., and that he was committed to working to the

best of his ability to ensure the relationship remained

positive and strong. The new government hopes to hold the

ASEAN summit in Bangkok the third week of February. He said

clean governance and integrity were high on Prime Minister

Abhisit policy agenda. This included IPR enforcement and a

better dialogue on CL issues. He vowed Thailand\’s external

relationships would not be driven by \”vested\” interests,

including the interests of public companies like EGAT and PTT

in Burma. He said Thailand would work to constructively

engage Burma on the range of issues that affect Thai-Burma

relations, including the repatriation of refugees and cross

border issues. Kasit promised to study a non-paper on the

Viktor Bout case provided by the Ambassador.

 

3. (C) Comment: The session was a refreshing and positive

meeting with an interlocutor who appears competent and

clearly understands the issues affecting the U.S.-Thai

relationship. A former Ambassador in Washington (2004-05),

Kasit was forward leaning on all the issues we discussed and

reiterated several times his commitment to a positive and

constructive relationship with the U.S. While Kasit will

undoubtedly advocate Thailand\’s positions forcefully, his

professional focus and understanding of the complexities of

the U.S.-Thai relationship will make working with him and the

MFA on difficult issues easier. End comment.

 

Old partner in a new role

————————-

 

4. (SBU) In a meeting on December 26 with the Ambassador,

newly-appointed FM Kasit expressed enthusiasm about the new

U.S. administration and looked forward to working with the

incoming U.S. Secretary of State on a close and constructive

relationship. Noting that in the recent past, Thailand had

played a passive and reactive role in its relationship to the

U.S., just responding to U.S. requests, Kasit vowed Thailand

would now be more proactive in planning the direction of the

relationship.

 

ASEAN

—–

 

5. (SBU) Starting off with a discussion on the ASEAN summit,

Kasit told the Ambassador that the summit will likely take

place the third week of February, in Bangkok. Plans for the

summit would be finalized after the government delivered its

policy statement on December 29 or 30; the Cabinet would then

meet to approve the framework for the summit and send it to

parliament for approval on January 5 or 6. Kasit assured the

 

BANGKOK 00003757 002.2 OF 004

 

Ambassador that the RTG still planned for the U.S. Ambassador

for ASEAN Affairs, Scott Marciel, to attend as an observer.

Kasit said work on the Terms-of-Reference (TOR) for the

formation of the ASEAN human rights body was proceeding well;

he hoped a first draft would be ready by the beginning of the

summit. Kasit opined that the TOR and formation of the human

rights body would be an indication of the future direction of

ASEAN. He said it would show that ASEAN was working not just

for open markets, but for \”open societies\” as well.

 

CL, IPR, CSR, and Trade

———————–

 

6. (SBU) On economic issues, Kasit told the Ambassador that

he has been engaging the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) to

improve coordination on issues such as Compulsory Licensing

(CL); the MoC would take the lead on establishing an

interagency committee to tackle issues of intellectual

property right (IPR) protection enforcement. The Ambassador

emphasized to Kasit the importance the U.S placed on IPR and

CL and said the pharmaceutical industry had felt over the

last six months that the cards were stacked against it; the

Ministry of Health seemed to have taken advantage of

confusion within the government to add more CLs without going

through the proper process. The pharmaceutical industry

sought a better dialogue with the RTG.

 

7. (SBU) Kasit responded that he had just spoken to the

Ministry of Health on this issue. He said he believed there

would be another committee to address it, with PREMA

(Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturer Association)

represented on the committee. The Democrat-led government of

Prime Minister Abhisit was very serious about IPR issues,

Kasit maintained, and there would be a strong message in the

government\’s up-coming policy statement about governance and

corporate responsibility. He pointed out that Abhisit, in

his first cabinet meeting, had emphasized nine precepts to

guide his government. The second precept was specifically

about honesty and governance. He had recently chaired a

seminar at the National Counter Corruption Committee (NCCC)

on corporate social responsibility; the NCCC planned to work

with the private sector on this issue. He hoped that a

national policy on clean governance and corporate

responsibility would translate down to private sector

business practices by linking corporate social responsibility

to a government body.

 

8. (SBU) The Ambassador rounded out the discussion on

economic issues by commenting on beef imports and trade in

general. He thanked Kasit for his forward leaning comments

on CL and IPR but stressed that import regulations in the

beef industry needed to be liberalized and brought into line

with the rest of the region. He emphasized the need to

continue moving forward on trade issues; given the global

economic climate, trade issues would likely become more

difficult to resolve before they get easier, making forward

movement essential.

 

Burma and Refugees: A Clean Slate

———————————

 

9. (C) In response to the Ambassador\’s inquiry about the new

Thai government\’s Burma policy, Kasit said that PM Abhisit

had made it clear to the Cabinet that vested interests would

not drive Thailand\’s external relationships. Kasit said he

planned on talking to Burma on a whole range of issues, and

that the vested interests that drove Thailand\’s past

relationship with Burma (including the activities of

companies and state agencies such as EGAT (the Electricity

Generation Authority of Thailand) and PTT (the Petroleum

Authority of Thailand)) would no longer drive policy. With

such interests out of the way, the Thai and Burmese would

start on a clean policy slate and spend more time addressing

cross-border issues, such as trafficking in persons, drugs,

and smuggling. Kasit said the ASEAN charter would give them

the means to address these issues in a constructive manner.

 

10. (C) On refugee issues, Kasit thanked the U.S. for the

 

BANGKOK 00003757 003.2 OF 004

 

Burmese resettlement program, which last year took 14,000

Burmese to the U.S. He said he had recently traveled to Mae

Sot and found the physical conditions in the camps \”not

encouraging,\” and not healthy. He was particularly concerned

about infrastructure issues; there was a need for more

investment in education and vocational training for children,

so they would come out of the camps with some ability to do

something. He said he planned on reviewing the entire

refugee policy approach and would have internal discussions

with the National Security Council and Ministry of Interior

on better coordination with international NGOs.

 

11. (C) Kasit added, however, that there also needed to be a

discussion with the Burmese government on repatriation.

Since the resettlement program had created a \”pull\” factor,

Thailand must work with Burma and somehow eliminate the pull

factor. On the Lao Hmong, Kasit agreed with the Ambassador

that the issue of repatriating Hmong to Laos was extremely

complicated because of the deep social divisions between the

Hmong and the Lao government. Kasit said Abhisit planned to

go to Laos in January on his first foreign visit and hoped to

address this issue. Kasit nodded when the Ambassador said

the situation of the Hmong at the Nong Kai immigration

detention center, many of them children, needed to be

resolved as well.

 

Cambodia and resolving border disputes

————————————–

 

12. (SBU) Kasit said the issue of negotiating with Cambodia

over the border dispute near the Preah Vihear temple would be

resubmitted to the cabinet for discussion. Thailand needed

to respect the early 1960s World Court decision on the

temple. There remained, however, according to Kasit, five

other spots along the border that needed to be resolved

through negotiations with Cambodia. He reaffirmed plans to

retain Ambassador Vasin Tearavechyon as the Thai co-chair of

the Thai-Cambodia Joint Border Commission. He said that he

was encouraged that Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen had been

the first foreign leader to congratulate PM Abhisit (by

letter).

 

Plans for Southern Thailand

—————————

 

13. (C) On possible new approaches to address the unrest in

southern Thailand, Kasit said that the forthcoming policy

statement would contain a section on a new draft law to

establish a coordinating agency, under Deputy Prime Minister

Suthep Thaugsuban, for the deep south. Kasit affirmed that

the Democrat-led government would attempt a comprehensive

plan for dealing with the insurgency that would extend beyond

security measures and focus heavily on addressing issues of

justice, economics, and culture. Foremost, he said, the

government must be sensitive to the needs of the local

people. He said that although there would be a push for

large-scale infrastructure projects, the government will

first take steps to ensure money that has been budgeted for

the south actually gets to the places where it is needed. An

additional 100 billion baht ($3 billion) would then be

allocated to deal with the situation. The money would be

used for, among other things, development of the halal food

industry and a project involving a land bridge to connect sea

ports on the Gulf of Siam to the Andaman Sea (as an

alternative to using the Strait of Malacca).

 

14. (C) According to Kasit, the government\’s approach to the

south would be marked by a willingness to talk. He said

cooperation with both Indonesia and Malaysia would be

welcome, and the RTG planned to follow-up on offers of

assistance from both these countries. He said they must also

take stock of what had happened to negotiations since Surayud

Chulanont was Prime Minister (through February 2007). There

were promises and commitments made; the new administration

needed to figure out what had happened to these commitments.

 

Bout

—-

 

BANGKOK 00003757 004.2 OF 004

 

15. (SBU) The Ambassador highlighted to Kasit the importance

the USG places on the extradition proceedings of indicted

Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout, noting that the U.S.

remained patient, but looked forward to an eventual

extradition. Kasit responded by saying PM Abhisit was very

committed to the rule of law and integrity. He said the MFA

would closely monitor the proceedings (note: Bout\’s

extradition hearing went into recess December 23, scheduled

to resume on March 6, 2009, a year after he was initially

taken into Thai custody). The Ambassador gave Kasit a

non-paper on the status of the Bout case, which the Foreign

Minister promised to study.

JOHN

Written by thaicables

July 19, 2011 at 6:24 am

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