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09BANGKOK2962 THAILAND: AMBASSADOR AND FM KASIT DISCUSS U.S. ASIA DIPLOMACY, CAMBODIA, THAKSIN

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“235806″,”11/20/2009 10:28″,”09BANGKOK2962″,

 

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,”VZCZCXRO3808

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SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR EAP/MLS, NSC FOR BADER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/19/2019

TAGS: PREL, PGOV, TH

SUBJECT: THAILAND: AMBASSADOR AND FM KASIT DISCUSS U.S.

ASIA DIPLOMACY, CAMBODIA, THAKSIN

 

BANGKOK 00002962 001.2 OF 003

 

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

 

1. (C) Summary: Thai Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya called

Ambassador to the Foreign Ministry on short notice late

November 19, primarily to discuss Cambodia and Thaksin.

Kasit began the meeting expressing \”profound thanks\” for the

President and Secretary\’s effective re-engagement in Asia

this year. Kasit blamed the ongoing diplomatic spat between

Thailand and Cambodia as the by-product of former PM Thaksin

Shinawatra\’s desire to bring down the RTG at any cost. Kasit

described Indonesian efforts to act as a broker for

Thai-Cambodian messages; he appealed to the U.S. to \”put a

few words\” in with Hun Sen about disengaging from Thaksin\’s

machinations against a fellow ASEAN neighbor. Ambassador

suggested that Thailand should seek to take the high road

going forward, finding ways it could publicly cooperate with

Cambodia, easing tensions. As the meeting broke up, FM Kasit

mentioned the Lao Hmong issue, underscoring the Thai

commitment to working closely with Laos while being mindful

of the concerns of the international community.

 

2. (C) Comment: In a session that had the air of musing out

loud, Kasit was not as focused in this meeting, in terms of

agenda and message, as he usually is, a sign perhaps that

Thai officials are unsure of next steps in the Thai-Cambodia

dynamic and what Thaksin\’s next steps may be, with the next

red rally anticipated to be larger and longer than any since

the April red riots. We will follow-up with ideas on

health-related and other humanitarian projects that have a

U.S. component that might serve as vehicles for useful

cross-border humanitarian gestures. End Summary.

 

\”Profound thanks\” for U.S. return to Asia

—————————————–

 

3. (C) Clearly buoyed by APEC and ASEAN-related discussions

in Singapore, FM Kasit began the early evening meeting with

Ambassador and PolCouns by expressing \”profound thanks\” for

the reinvigorated U.S. engagement in Asia in 2009,

culminating with President Obama\’s recent Asia swing but

including Secretary Clinton\’s two prior trips to Asia. This

reaffirmation of U.S. interest in Asia by both physical

presence of the President and Secretary, and substantive

dialogue and proposed cooperation, such as the Lower Mekong

Initiative launched by the Secretary in Phuket at the July

ASEAN Regional Forum, was critically important, Kasit

stressed.

 

4. (C) FM Kasit referenced useful \”chit chat\” on the margins

of APEC between Thai PM Abhisit and the President, as well as

with Secretary Clinton prior to the President\’s arrival. PM

Abhisit and the Royal Thai Government (RTG) were deeply

appreciative of the President\’s interest in what was going on

domestically in Thailand, and especially of the health of His

Majesty King Bhumibol, Kasit added.

 

Thaksin\’s challenge to the \”very fabric\” of Thai society

——————————————— ———–

 

5. (C) Switching to the domestic political situation, Kasit

asserted that the current RTG was committed to promoting the

further democratization of Thai society and ensuring that

authorities played by the rule of law. The coalition

government looked to stay in office long enough to show

results from their education reform and infrastructure

development policies. National reconciliation, regardless of

political color, was essential if the country were to move

forward. However, Kasit felt compelled to clarify the

situation vis-a-vis Thaksin, due to suggestions from

(unspecified) American quarters. It is too late to expect

the RTG to negotiate a deal with Thaksin, he stated. Two

factors, the two year sentence for abuse of

office/corruption, and his instigation of violence in April

aiming to topple the RTG, made negotiations or \”out of court\”

settlements impossible.

 

6. (C) Ambassador asked Kasit why Thaksin had taken two

controversial steps in recent weeks that seemingly undercut

his position in Thailand–the Cambodia trip and the Times

 

BANGKOK 00002962 002.2 OF 003

 

Online interview touching on the monarchy. Thaksin had

knowingly gone down a path over the past five-six years,

rejecting any possibility of compromise, that had led him and

the country to the current situation, Kasit stated.

 

7. (C) For his part, Thaksin continued to pursue

extra-constitutional methods to force a change in government,

and his \”rhetorical mud-slinging\” on the issue of the

monarchy, claimed Kasit. In so doing, Thaksin was trying to

undermine the very fabric of Thai society, and the stability

of the country, with violence the only way to achieve his

objectives. Kasit warned this process, if it spun out of

control, had the potential to affect U.S.-Thai relations as

well. Ambassador underscored the Embassy\’s consistent

message to red-shirt leaders of the United Front of Democracy

Against Dictatorship (UDD), Puea Thai politicians, and others

associated with Thaksin that they should not employ violence

in pursuit of their political aims. Kasit responded that all

Thais should work out of a common believe in the democratic

system, but that Thaksin was working to undermine the fabric

of Thailand\’s democratic regime.

 

International voices to Hun Sen (on the Thaksin issue)

——————————————— ———

 

8. (C) FM Kasit said Thailand would \”highly appreciate\” the

U.S. sharing \”a few words\” with Cambodian leader Hun Sen \”to

help him come to his senses\” regarding his support of

Thaksin, in light of what the red-shirts \”intend to do next

week\” (note: a reference to the red-shirt announcement of a

rally starting November 28 that they vow will continue until

it topples the RTG. End note). Hun Sen was supporting a

force publicly intent on destabilizing Thailand; Thailand

would appreciate messages to Hun Sen to disassociate with

Thaksin. Apart from the Thaksin factor, the rest of the

Thai-Cambodia relationship could be quickly put back on an

even keel, Kasit opined, adding that the Thai continued to

talk to Hun Sen\’s West Point-educated son, \”whom we find

sensible, though we do not know what he says to his father.\”

 

9. (C) Kasit described one international mediating effort

ongoing; on the margins of the Singapore APEC/ASEAN meetings,

Indonesian President SBY had invited PM Abhisit/FM Kasit to

meet him and Indonesian FM Marie, and subsequently met Hun

Sen, to hear both countries\’ views on how the diplomatic spat

had evolved. SBY had delegated FM Marie to serve as an

interlocutor to pass messages between the Thai and

Cambodians. According to Kasit, the Thai message via the

Indonesians to Hun Sen had been simple: disassociate with

Thaksin, and help the relationship revert to where it was

prior to October 23, when Hun Sen arrived in Thailand for the

ASEAN Summit and publicly insulted the Thai judicial and

political processes in unacceptable terms.

 

10. (C) Hun Sen\’s further comments in media interviews

alleging that the Democrat Party was orchestrating

anti-Cambodia press coverage and PAD activities was off-base,

Kasit asserted; the Thai had repeatedly explained to Hun Sen

that Thailand was an open society with a free media, and that

the yellow-shirts spent more time attacking the Democrat-led

coalition than they did focsed on Cambodia/Hun Sen.

 

11. (C) When asked about Thai assessments of Hun Sen\’s

motivation in making such public common cause with Thaksin,

Kasit replied that Hun Sen appeared frustrated that he was

not able to realize short-term financial gain from an

expected package deal with Thaksin and allies over territory

around Preah Vihear to be turned into a \”Disney-like\”

entertainment complex, as well as the joint off-shore

development area. Out of frustration, Hun Sen appeared to

have bet on pressuring the current Thai government to fall,

banking on Thaksin-backed forces to win the next election,

amend the Constitution, pardon Thaksin, implement one-party

rule, and deliver him payback in return.

 

Next Steps in Thai-Cambodia relations

————————————-

 

12. (C) Kasit painted a bleak picture of the immediate next

 

BANGKOK 00002962 003.2 OF 003

 

developments in the Thai-Cambodia spat. Hun Sen would run a

\”kangaroo court\” on the arrested Thai national, and he had

effectively nationalized the Thai company with a 33 year

concession to run the Air Traffic Control service by ejecting

the Thai management. Kasit suggested Hun Sen\’s motives were

to undermine Thai public support of the RTG\’s position by

playing the personal tragedy and business dispute cards.

Already the owner of the air traffic control concession was

begging the RTG to salvage his investment; meanwhile, the MFA

was paying out $20,000 in legal services for his arrested

employee, and paying to fly his mother to Cambodia to see him.

 

13. (C) Ambassador suggested Thailand should take the high

road going forward, given that Hun Sen had precipitated the

crisis by so publicly hosting Thaksin, by finding ways it

could publicly cooperate with Cambodia, both to ease tensions

and to underscore to international partners and friends its

positive approach to the situation. Kasit replied that he

had written to ASEAN Foreign Ministers and engaged them

personally. Indonesia and Malaysia were \”with us,\” Kasit

assessed, Singapore cautious. Vietnam would not allow

Thaksin to visit; even Brunei was \”okay.\” It came down to

just Cambodia and Hun Sen.

 

14. (C) Ambassador suggested other avenues of cooperation,

including promoting humanitarian assistance in areas such as

health cooperation in fighting malaria affecting the

Thai-Cambodia border area and distribution of H1N1 vaccines

via the WHO. Kasit replied positively, noting that Thailand

was continuing all humanitarian and development assistance

projects for Cambodia, that Thailand continued to buy tapioca

and corn from Cambodia contract farmers, and that border

commanders continued their regular lunches and discussion of

cooperative border efforts; anti-malarial efforts were

important in this regard. Thailand had no issue with the

Cambodian people, Kasit stressed; Thailand had attended the

recent Japan-Mekong Summit as a co-donor with Japan, not as

an aid recipient.

 

Lao Hmong

———

 

15. (C) As the meeting started to break up, Kasit asked if

there were new developments regarding the issue of the Lao

Hmong. Ambassador referenced the recent meeting between PRM

and the Thai Embassy in Washington. Nodding, Kasit replied

that he had read the embassy\’s report. Thailand continued to

talk to the Lao regarding repatriations, but at the same time

it was mindful of the international community\’s concerns and

interest in the issue, he concluded.

JOHN

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Written by thaicables

July 22, 2011 at 9:28 am

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