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

 

SIPDIS

 

NSC FOR PHU

 

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

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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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

Written by thaicables

July 19, 2011 at 6:11 am

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

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“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

Written by thaicables

July 19, 2011 at 5:57 am

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

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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

06BANGKOK5058 SCENESETTER FOR THE AUGUST 26 – SEPTEMBER 2 VISIT OF ASSISTANT SECRETARY SAUERBREY

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“75314”,”8/18/2006 7:27″,”06BANGKOK5058″,

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SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

GENEVA FOR RMA

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/11/2016

TAGS: PREF, PREL, ASEC, OTRA, TH

SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR THE AUGUST 26 – SEPTEMBER 2 VISIT

OF ASSISTANT SECRETARY SAUERBREY

 

REF: STATE 129885

 

Classified By: AMBASSADOR RALPH BOYCE, REASON 1.4 (B,D)

 

1. (C) Ellen, we look forward to your visit to Thailand.

Bilateral relations with Thailand have been generally

excellent. Thailand is a security treaty ally and has been

firmly supportive of the Global War on Terror. American

businesses have over $20 billion in direct investment in

Thailand, and are the second largest investor after Japan.

Thailand and the U.S. have long enjoyed a close security

relationship, which is reflected in the fact that Thailand is

a Major Non-Nato Ally (MNNA) of the United States. We have

strong relations with Thai law enforcement officials and have

had great success in fighting narcotics trafficking. In

2004-5, thanks to years of working with the Thai military,

the United States was able to quickly deploy over one

thousand American soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen to

Utapao Naval Air Base in Thailand and set up a regional

tsunami relief operation.

 

SIPDIS

 

2. (C) We hope your visit to Thailand will contribute to

progress on the following objectives:

 

— Explain and win greater understanding from the Thai on

the material support issue and sketch out, as much as

possible, a timeline for moving U.S. resettlement processing

to other Burma border camps.

 

— Express support for and encourage greater movement by the

Thai on their new policies of improving conditions for

Burmese refugees, including screening of individual Burmese

asylum seekers, issuance of exit permits for U.S. family

reunification cases, camp refugee identity cards, and passes

that would allow refugees to find work outside the camps.

 

— Urge the Thai not to deport the Petchaboon Hmong and seek

an explanation of Thai plans to resolve this issue, including

a looming problem of inadequate food supplies.

 

— Press the Thai on allowing us to process pending North

Korean refugee cases and reassure them that we will do so

discreetly.

 

Political Situation

—————–

 

3. (SBU) In 2001, telecommunications multimillionaire Thaksin

Shinawatra and his Thai Rak Thai (TRT) party won a decisive

victory on a populist platform of economic growth and

development. Thaksin was reelected in February 2005, winning

377 out of 500 seats in the Parliament. Subsequent

allegations of corruption led to a move by the opposition to

demand a parliamentary no confidence vote. Rather than face

parliamentary debate, Thaksin dissolved the Parliament in

February 2006 and declared snap elections in April. Peaceful

anti-government demonstrations grew as thousands marched in

the streets of Bangkok to demand Thaksin\’s resignation. The

opposition boycotted the April elections, leading to a

political stalemate. Following Royal intervention, the

judiciary annulled the April election and new elections are

expected to take place in October. Protesters have not

returned to the streets and the Thai military has not

intervened. The government remains in caretaker status.

 

The South and Terrorism

————————-

 

4. (C) The most pressing security concern for the Thai

remains the unrest in Thailand\’s deep south provinces

bordering Malaysia. Violence continues to occur almost daily

with over one thousand persons reported killed over the past

two years either by militants or government actions. The

ongoing violence has historic roots going back a century and

is based on local grievances from poor treatment by the

government and a desire to separate the region from the Thai

state. There still is no direct evidence of operational

links between Thai separatists and outside terrorists. The

Thai government has not formulated an effective strategy

against the insurgents. Border security issues have strained

relations with neighboring Malaysia.

 

5. (C) The Thai government does not seek a U.S. presence in

the south and is sensitive to rumors of U.S. involvement in

the violence. Nonetheless, we have worked closely to find

areas where we can help. We have stepped up our human rights

training of Thai troops rotating into the south to improve

 

BANGKOK 00005058 002 OF 004

 

their ability to control crowds and conduct other operations

in a way that complies with international norms. We are also

working with the Thai to improve their intelligence sharing

and gathering capabilities.

 

Burma and Human Rights

————————-

 

6. (C) For most of the Thaksin administration, we have been

at odds over our respective approaches to Burma —

essentially agreeing to disagree. The Royal Thai Government

(RTG) under Thaksin has claimed that though it agrees the

regime must show progress in bringing about national

reconciliation, Bangkok must stay engaged with the ruling

junta in order to sustain a dialogue on issues that directly

affect Thailand, such as illegal immigration from Burma and

narcotics smuggling. Thailand has, however, appeared to go

well beyond this, being perceived by some as justifying some

of the regime\’s excesses. Lately, at our urging, the Thai

have begun to move closer to regional and international

opinion, by publicly criticizing Rangoon on its continued

detention of Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and resistance

to genuine national reconciliation. Nonetheless, we were not

consulted prior to Thaksin\’s August 2 sudden and secretive

trip to Burma to meet with Than Shwe, during which he claims

he pressed for reform in Burma.

 

7. (C) We have also criticized the RTG for some of its human

rights practices. A bloody crackdown on alleged drug vendors

during a \”war on drugs campaign\” in 2003 and actions by

security forces in the south, have been publicly raised by

the United States in our annual human rights reports and in

public fora, as well as in our private conversations with

Thai officials.

 

Burma Refugee Resettlement and Material Support

——————————————— —

 

8. (C) The primary issue affecting the Embassy\’s refugee work

over the past year has been material support. It has

seriously complicated resettlement of Burmese camp refugees,

just as our program for this group was getting off the

ground. It has also created hard-to-explain anomalies in our

overall policy toward Burmese displaced persons. We have

defined the Karen National Union (KNU) and the Karen National

Liberation Army (KNLA) as terrorist groups for refugee

resettlement purposes at the same time that USAID is starting

a cross-border program that will involve small payments to

KNLA soldiers. We have refused refugee resettlment to former

KNLA combatants even though USG-funded programs provide food,

medical care, and housing supplies to such persons.

 

9. (C) The material support waiver for Karen in Tham Hin camp

produced a DHS resettlement approval rate of about 75

percent, higher than expected. At the same time, less that

one-half of the camp population applied for resettlement.

There seem to be a combination of reasons for this lack of

enthusiasm: confusion about material support and concern

that cases would be denied for material support reasons; a

hope of returning to Burma; and worry about being able to

start a new life in the United States. The upshot is that

only about 2,700 persons have been approved so far out of a

total camp population of about 9,000. This result is

disappointing to us, and while they have not said so,

certainly also to the Thai. We have some hope that ongoing

departures will kindle resettlement interest among those Tham

Hin refugees who have so far declined the resettlement

option. The first departures from the Tham Hin program

started on August 16.

 

10. (C) We agreed with the Thai over one year ago, before

material support, that Tham Hin would be a test case and that

we would consider resettlement processing in other camps

after joint evaluation of the Tham Hin program results. We

need RTG approval before we can move to other camps. It

would be very useful to use your visit to explain and win

greater understanding from the Thai on the material support

issue and sketch out, as much as possible, a timeline for

moving U.S. resettlement processing to other Burma border

camps.

 

RTG Policy Changes on Burmese Camp Refugees

——————————————–

 

11. (C) RTG policies on Burmese camp refugee have shifted

significantly and in a positive way over the past year. The

Thai seem to recognize now that there is little hope of the

 

BANGKOK 00005058 003 OF 004

 

refugees returning to Burma. They also seem to see that a

continuation of the current camp situation where refugees

have limited legal opportunities for higher education and

employment is not acceptable from a humanitarian perspective

nor sensible if the refugees remain in Thailand over the

long-term or resettle to other countries. As a result, the

Thai have given the green light to the NGO community and

donor countries to put forward proposals for income

generation and expanded education and vocational training for

Burma camp refugees. They have also begun programs, so far

limited, to teach Thai to camp refugees.

 

12. (C) The Thai have put in place, with UNHCR assistance,

screening panels for Burmese refugees called Provincial

Admissions Boards (PAB). The PABs have approved en masse

registration and formal entry into the camps of about 27,000

refugees who had been living in the camps and receiving

assistance but had never been officially admitted. The PABs

are now supposed to begin screening of individual Burmese

asylum-seekers who live outside the camps. Your visit

provides a good opportunity to push the Thai on PAB screening

of individual cases and issuance of exit permits for Visas 93

and P3 family reunification cases for Burmese refugees.

 

13. (C) While the shift in overall Thai policy is good,

implementation has been fitful, not always transparent, and

subject to the interpretation and initiative of local

officials. UNHCR has not, for example, been able to obtain

final Thai approval for Burma camp refugee identification

cards, which would be an important step forward on

protection. We and UNHCR need to keep encouraging the Thai

to move forward on the cards. We should ask about the

possibility of the Thai permitting camp passes that would

allow refugees to leave the camps individually to work in

local labor markets. We should also show support for the

Thai policy of permitting refugee income generation by

boosting PRM funding of American Refugee Committee (ARC) and

International Rescue Committee (IRC) programs in this area.

 

Petchaboon Hmong

—————-

 

14. (C) The Petchaboon Hmong situation is complex and we do

not see a near-term solution despite extensive discussions

with UNHCR and the RTG. There are approximately 6,000

persons at the Petchaboon site, which is essentially a

primitive encampment along two sides of a mountain road. MSF

provides medical care and sanitation and a U.S. faith-based

organization has been distributing rice. There is a concern

that serious food shortages could develop over time. The RTG

has recently sent soldiers to the site and they have

tightened access as part of an effort to discourage others

from going to Petchaboon. The Thai also say that they

reserve the right to deport the Petchaboon Hmong for illegal

entry, and this week they took 31 Hmong who had been detained

in a Petchaboon police station to the Lao border. While it

does not appear that these 31 persons were handed over to Lao

officials, we have received conflicting reports as to whether

they are now in Thailand or Laos.

 

15. (C) The origins and motives of the Petchaboon Hmong are

not completely clear. They can be divided into three groups.

The first are persons who had been living in Thailand for

many years and went to Petchaboon in the hope of getting into

any future Tham Krabok-like U.S. resettlement program. The

second, who may comprise the largest share of the population,

appear to have been well-settled in Laos and crossed over

into Thailand with a similar motive. Certain Hmong-Americans

organizations have stated falsely that the USG will open

another resettlement program at Petchaboon and have

encouraged members of these two groups to go there to be

first in line. The third are persons who fled Laos because

of political or religious persecution.

 

16. (C) We have stated that there will not be another Tham

Krabok program and that the Thai should refrain from

deporting the Hmong and permit UNHCR to interview those with

legitimate refugee claims. The RTG is worried about a pull

factor, which is a legitimate concern, and has denied, and

will likely continue to deny UNHCR access to the population.

While the Thai say they reserve the right to deport the Hmong

for illegal entry, as a practical matter this is difficult

because the Lao government refuses to take the Hmong back.

Even if UNHCR were to gain access and refer individual cases

to us, our ability to resettle the Hmong would be restricted

by material support. Of 46 Hmong refugees recently referred

 

BANGKOK 00005058 004 OF 004

 

to us by UNHCR, 33 are on material support hold. Other

countries have limited interest in resettling Hmong and the

Thai have ruled out formal local integration. While the

international community and the Thai seek a solution to this

impasse, we need to continue to urge the Thai not to deport

the Hmong. We also need to ensure that there is no problem

with malnutrition and food at the Petchaboon site.

 

North Korean Refugees

———————

 

17. (C) Fifteen North Koreans in Bangkok have indicated

interest in U.S. resettlement. After allowing us to resettle

the first group of six North Koreans in April, the RTG has

declined permission thus far for further North Korean refugee

case processing. The Thai are concerned about a pull factor

and the possible involvment of traffickers. While they

recognize the requirements of U.S. law, they note that U.S.

law is effectively encouraging North Koreans to break Thai

law by entering Thailand illegally. Three of the fifteen

North Koreans have been waiting for almost three months. We

should continue to press the Thai to allow us to process the

pending North Korean cases, and reassure them that we will do

so discreetly. It is probably unlikely at this point that

the Thai will agree to go beyond their current approach of

considering U.S. processing on a case-by-case basis.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 13, 2011 at 5:22 am

06BANGKOK4725 SURAKIART ON THAKSIN’S SUDDEN VISIT TO BURMA

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“73591”,”8/3/2006 11:11″,”06BANGKOK4725″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,

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RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI”,

“C O N F I D E N T I A L

SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 004725

 

SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPT FOR P, EAP, EAP/MLS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/04/2016

TAGS: PGOV, PREL, TH, BM

SUBJECT: SURAKIART ON THAKSIN’S SUDDEN VISIT TO BURMA

 

BANGKOK 00004725 001.2 OF 002

 

Classified By: Ambassador Ralph Boyce for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

 

1. (C) Summary: On August 3, Deputy Prime Minister Surakiart

discussed with Ambassador Prime Minister Thaksin\’s \”sudden

and puzzling\” trip to Burma the previous day. Surakiart said

that he was \”personally appalled\” by the trip and confirmed

that there was no advance planning. He claimed to have only

learned of the trip on the morning of Tuesday, August 1. He

said that Thaksin met privately with Than Shwe and Maung Aye

while the rest of the Thai delegation met with their

respective counterparts. According to Surakiart, the main

message that Thaksin hoped to deliver was that Thailand and

ASEAN want to draw Burma out of its self-imposed isolation,

and that in order to do so, Burma needs to keep ASEAN

informed of what it is doing and be willing to open up more

to the international community. End Summary.

 

Road Trip!

———-

 

2.(C) Surakiart told Ambassador that Thaksin proposed the

visit in a private discussion with the Burmese representative

at a meeting of ASEAN intelligence agencies in Pattaya on

July 28. On July 31, Than Shwe reportedly sent word that he

would agree to meet Thaksin in the new capital. The

following morning (August 1) Thaksin called Surakiart and

Foreign Minister Kantathi to inform them about the plan.

Surakiart said that Kantathi then asked if one of them should

attend as well. Thaksin replied to Kantathi, \”Sure, if you

want to come along.\” At this point, Surakiart said that he

was \”relieved\” that Kantathi would go and that he was not

specifically asked to attend. The rest of the Thai delegation

included MFA Permanent Secretary Krit Garnjana-Goonchorn,

Army Commander Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratkalin, National

Intelligence Director Pol. Gen. Chumpol Manmai, Agriculture

Minister Sudarat Keyuarphan and Natural Resources Minister

Yongyut Tiyapairat.

 

Thaksin and the Generals

————————

 

3. (C) Surakiart said that Thaksin had a private meeting with

Than Shwe, Maung Aye and one notetaker. Surakiart got a

readout on the meeting from MFA Permanent Secretary Krit.

(Note: Surakiart said that he tried to get a readout on the

trip while in the car with Thaksin this morning, but Thaksin

got out of the car before he could had time. End note.)

According to Surakiart, Thaksin\’s purpose in going to Burma

was to try to draw Burma out of its self-imposed isolation by

\”bringing the feeling of the international community and

ASEAN directly to Than Shwe.\” The main message that Thaksin

hoped to deliver was that Thailand and ASEAN want to be

supportive of Burma, but that Burma needed to take certain

steps. Specifically, Thaksin suggested that the regime

should clearly explain the process and time frame for the

drafting of Burma\’s new constitution. He also suggested that

the regime explain its plan for sharing power with \”others\”.

Thaksin reportedly told Than Shwe that he should consider

attending more international meetings. Lastly, Burma needed

to do a better job at keeping ASEAN informed of its plans.

 

4. (C) Surakiart said that Thaksin attempted to bring up the

topic of Aung San Suu Kyi. However, as soon as he did Than

Shwe \”cut him off\” with the usual litany of complaints, i.e.

ASSK is uncooperative, causes trouble whenever she is

released, etc.

 

5. (C) While Thaksin met with Than Shwe and Maung Aye, the

other ministers met with their respective counterparts, i.e.

Kantathi met with FM Soe Win, General Sonthi met with General

Thura Shwe Mann, etc. Surakiart did not have readouts of

these meetings. (We have seen some press reports quoting

Kantathi as stating that the Thai urged the Burmese to

release ASSK.) When Ambassador asked Surakiart about this,

he replied: \”If Soe Win agreed to that, he\’s gone.\”

 

6. (C) Ambassador underscored our disappointment about not

being consulted prior to the trip. Ambassador added that

even if Thaksin was well intentioned, the trip is not playing

well, particularly given its sudden and secretive nature.

Surakiart fully agreed and noted that the political

opposition in Thailand will \”have a field day with this.\” He

noted, however, that he was relieved that there was

 

BANGKOK 00004725 002.2 OF 002

 

apparently no conversation between Thaksin and Than Shwe

about Thaksin\’s personal business interests in Burma.

 

Comment

——-

 

7. (C) This trip caught everyone off-guard, including by most

accounts the Thai Army Commander (who had to cancel plans to

travel to Southern Thailand) and members of Thaksin\’s

cabinet. Part of the reason cam be ascribed to Thaksin\’s

impulsive, unpredictable nature. Presumably, Thaksin made

some calculation that this was a propitious moment to

approach Than Shwe and Maung Aye on behalf of ASEAN (we have

unconfirmed reports that Thaksin called President Arroyo

shortly before embarking on his visit). Still, it is unclear

what led Thaksin to believe that he had something to be

gained by making such a trip, shrouded in secrecy. It would

be interesting to know other ASEAN capital\’s views.

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 13, 2011 at 5:05 am

Posted in Burma, Confidential, Thaksin

06BANGKOK2826 SCENESETTER FOR THE VISIT OF EAP A/S HILL

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“63638”,”5/11/2006 9:45″,”06BANGKOK2826″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,””,”VZCZCXRO0942

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SIPDIS

 

SIPDIS

 

DEPARTMENT FOR A/S CHRIS HILL

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/10/2016

TAGS: OVIP, MARR, MASS, PREL, PGOV, TH

SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR THE VISIT OF EAP A/S HILL

 

Classified By: Ambassador Ralph L. Boyce. Reason 1.4 (a and d)

 

1. (C) INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY.

 

Chris, we\’re looking forward to your upcoming visit to

participate in the ASEAN-U.S. Dialogue. I am also planning

to host a dinner in your honor with former Prime Minister

Anand Panyarachun. Anand is thoughtful and I think you\’ll

enjoy hearing his views on southern Thailand, the ongoing

political situation, and regional issues. We\’re also

arranging for you to meet with MFA Permanent Secretary Krit

Garnjana-Goonchorn immediately after you arrive from

Singapore and are working with the U.S.-ASEAN Business

Council on a breakfast meeting. You may wish to thank Krit

for the RTG\’s help in facilitating the movement of the six

North Koreans to the U.S. There\’s a decent chance the Thai

will help again in the future, so long as their involvement

is kept out of the press. In addition to hearing your views

about regional economic issues, the USABC will want to hear

about prospects for FTA talks resuming after a new government

is in place. The political situation here remains fluid —

any specifics we provide in this cable could very well be

overcome by events by the time you are here. Nonetheless,

demonstrations have stopped for now and we have moved out of

crisis mode. We are working closely with Washington agencies

and PACOM on a series of initiatives designed to improve our

ability to promote counter-terrorism cooperation and regional

maritime security. Thai policy towards Burma remains a

friction point, although the Thai are coming around to the

view that ASEAN\’s \”constructive engagement\” policy is not

working. The problem is what to do next. It\’s unrealistic

to expect much progress as long as the government is in

caretaker status. END SUMMARY.

 

THE POLITICAL SITUATION

 

2. (C) The Thai political system continues to work through

its biggest domestic political crisis since 1992. We can

expect relative calm to prevail through the end of June as

the Thai turn their attention to the 60th anniversary of the

King\’s ascension to the throne. Once the pageantry is over,

however, the uncertainty begins. One encouraging sign: the

three main opposition parties give early indication they will

contest the next round of parliamentary elections. With

that, much speculation now is turning to Thaksin\’s plans.

Though he vowed on April 4 not to return as Prime Minister in

the next Parliament, his supporters say the subsequent

annulment of the April 2 polls has changed the situation.

They reason that Thaksin is now freed from his earlier pledge

not to run and that there is no reason why he could not head

the government if TRT wins a majority. The prospect of

Thaksin\’s return risks reigniting street protests and

attendant uncertainty.

 

THE SITUATION IN THE SOUTH

 

3. (C) Although the domestic political crisis has dominated

the news headlines (both national and international) in

recent months, the violence in the South has continued

unabated. It remains the RTG\’s most pressing security issue

and a potential threat to our interests. Approximately 1,200

persons have been killed either by militants or by security

forces since January 2004 when the decades-old insurgency

flared up again. There is no current evidence of direct

transnational terrorist involvement in the South, but we know

some linkages with suspected regional terrorists (JI) exist.

Southern separatists direct their anger at the government in

Bangkok, not at the U.S., and continue to define their

struggle mainly along ethnic rather than religious lines.

However, rumors that the U.S. is somehow fomenting the

violence as part of our war on terror continue to be widely

believed in the South. To avoid feeding these rumors, we

meticulously avoid military training exercises and the like

in the South, and do not label our security assistance as

related to the conflict.

 

4. (C) The RTG response to violence in the far South remains

undercut by poor security force capabilities, rampant

stove-piping, and the lack of an effective

prosecutorial-police partnership. In the last two years we

have shifted a significant portion of our wide ranging

training and assistance programs to help improve Thailand\’s

capabilities. We have determined that our excellent

military-to-military assistance program is generally on the

right track. The Thai police, however, remain the weak link

in the southern security apparatus. We have proposed to

Washington a bold, new inter-agency plan to refocus our

assistance, combat Thai shortcomings, and help the government

 

BANGKOK 00002826 002 OF 004

 

reverse some of its losses in the South. The key elements of

this plan are:

 

–Setting up a central, single coordinator at the Embassy to

ensure that our wide range of law enforcement training

fosters institutional change in the Thai security forces and

improves their capabilities in the South. We are in

discussion with DOJ about establishing an ICITAP presence in

Bangkok to meet this need.

 

–Identifying an appropriately experienced individual to

foster a true police-prosecutor partnership, particularly in

the South, that leads to arrests and convictions. We aim to

adjust the work requirements of our current DOJ Resident

Legal Advisor to reflect this new priority.

 

–Setting up new comprehensive training that provides Thai

security officials in the South with both basic and advanced

investigative and counterterrorism skills, while encouraging

them to work with their counterparts in other agencies.

 

MILITARY COOPERATION

 

5. (C) The U.S.-Thai security relationship is based on over

50 years of close cooperation. Thailand is the fourth

largest participant in the U.S. International Military

Education and Training (IMET) program. Thailand\’s

willingness to allow the United States to use Utapao Naval

Air Station as the hub for our regional tsunami assistance

program was key to making Operation Unified Assistance a

success and was only possible because of decades of combined

experience. PACOM recently named Utapao as the most

important Cooperative Security Location (CSL) we have in all

of the Asia-Pacific region — it remains vital to our efforts

to supply operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

 

6. (C) A key U.S. objective in the region is to improve

Maritime Security. As part of Section 1206 of the National

Defense Authorization Act of 2006, we recently proposed to

the Royal Thai Supreme Command and the Royal Thai Navy the

Andaman Sea Maritime Security Initiative. This project is a

layered approached to assist the Thai military to secure

territorial waters while also providing coverage of the

northern shipping lanes feeding into the Strait of Malacca.

It would combine a High Frequency Radar in the vicinity of

Phuket capable of reaching Sumatra — 200 miles away — with

a constellation of overlapping x-band radars to provide radar

coverage of the waters off the west coast of Thailand. The

USD 20 million initiative would also improve the Royal Thai

Navy\’s interdiction capabilities. If we can create similar

arrays in neighboring countries, this system could be part of

a regional network — perhaps providing a clear view of all

ocean traffic in SE Asia.

 

7. (C) While you are here, our largest annual exercise, Cobra

Gold, will be underway. Perhaps due to their lack of a

colonial heritage, Thai leaders are far more willing to host

multilateral exercises than are others countries in Asia.

Unlike Japan, which only hosts annual bilateral exercises due

to legal prohibitions over collective security, or Australia,

which avoids multilateral exercises so as not to \”dumb down\”

its own training opportunities, the Royal Thai Government

supports multilateral exercises as a way to show regional

leadership. So long as our concepts are properly sold to

Thai military and political leaders, we should be able to

continue to modify exercises to meet our regional security

objectives — including an ability to establish a

near-continuous presence in the region. Cobra Gold 2006 will

include almost 7,000 U.S. troops working together with Thai

counterparts in field training exercises ranging from

Military Operations in Urban Terrain and Air Assault

Operations to Naval Special Forces protecting offshore

natural gas platforms. The Command Post Exercise at Cobra

Gold will include participation by U.S., Thai, Japanese,

Singaporean and Indonesian forces and will focus on peace

keeping operations. Cobra Gold in the coming years will be a

centerpiece of our Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI),

which is designed to train 15,000 regional peacekeepers by

2010.

 

THE ROLE OF CHINA

 

8. (C) While emphasizing the vital role of the U.S. in the

region and Thailand\’s desire to intensify U.S. engagement,

Thai leaders also focus on developing stronger relations with

China. Bangkok views both India and China as sources of

unlimited consumer demand and hope to conclude FTAs with both

nations. China\’s growing influence in Thailand is evident in

 

BANGKOK 00002826 003 OF 004

 

business, the arts, the media and the military. Chinese TV

— in Mandarin and English — is widely available. Every

visit by a senior American official is countered by multiple

visits by Chinese. The Thai military has a growing number of

Chinese weapons systems in its arsenal. The PLA Navy has

close links with the RTN and recently conducted a major ship

visit to Phuket. The Chinese Ambassador here speaks good

Thai and previously served as their DG for East Asian

Affairs. Their Defense Attach is sophisticated, experienced

and polished.

 

GENERAL ECONOMIC PICTURE

 

9. (SBU) U.S.-Thai economic relations remain strong, with

the U.S. being the largest market for Thai goods. U.S.

direct investment in Thailand is second only to Japan\’s. The

Thai economy has largely recovered from the 1997 economic

crisis, although growth rates remain at levels much lower

than the economy\’s pre-1997 performance. Buoyed mostly by

exports, GDP looks set to grow at around 4-4.5 percent this

year. Major economic challenges include adapting to the

onslaught of China; infrastructure development; and

addressing persistent widespread poverty in the countryside.

The bilateral FTA is in limbo due to the current political

crisis. The FTA had encountered growing opposition within

Thailand before the onset of the current crisis, and its

unpopularity will hinder any future Thai government efforts

to re-start talks. Given hesitancy in Thailand and a short

time frame in the U.S. before Trade Promotion Authority

expires, Thai officials have hinted at negotiating a less

ambitious trade deal that would address immediate problems

such as possible changes in U.S. GSP policy, and trade

diversion caused by Thailand\’s other FTAs.

 

HUMAN RIGHTS IN THAILAND

 

10. (C) Thailand lost in its bid to gain a seat in the new

UN Human Rights Council despite receiving 120 votes and U.S.

support. G/TIP has decided against placing Thailand on the

Tier 2 Watch List this year. The decision is largely due to

significant progress from the RTG to return seven TIP victims

from Malaysia. The seven are hill tribe members and are not

technically considered Thai citizens by the RTG. They have

been in Malaysian immigration detention for over a year after

being rescued from a brothel. One bright spot in the ongoing

political drama is in the area of press freedom. The print

media has been particularly bold in its criticism of the

government, and even the government controlled broadcast

media has taken tentative steps away from self-censorship.

 

REFUGEES

 

11. (C) The RTG gave excellent cooperation on the six North

Korean refugees. This was a positive in the bilateral

relationship. At this point, we do not have a good sense of

how many other North Koreans will ask for U.S. resettlement.

The RTG position remains that they will work with us on a

discreet, case-by-case basis. On Burmese refugee

resettlement, the material support waiver recently signed by

Secretary Rice will allow us to proceed with DHS interviews

 

SIPDIS

for some Karen refugees. We expect a DHS team to arrive and

begin interviews in early June. Persons who provided support

to the Karen National Union (KNU) can now be approved for

U.S. resettlement if otherwise qualified. The material

support waiver does not cover former combatants and Karen

National Union members. These two groups will remain

ineligible. The net result will likely be an approval

percentage well below what we had initially hoped for. This

will be a disappointing result for us, the RTG, and the

refugees.

 

BURMA

 

12. (C) Like several other ASEAN countries, Thailand is

coming to grips with the fact that the policy of constructive

engagement with the regime in Burma is not working. The

dilemma is what to do next. The caretaker status of the

current government means that no new Burma policy directions

can be expected until the domestic political turmoil is

resolved. We are concerned by Thai plans to collaborate with

Burma on the construction of several hydro-electric dams

along the Salween river in Burma. The construction of these

dams will likely result in increased forced labor and bring

new waves of population displacement. The dams promise to

bring a new source of energy to Thailand, but many of the

displaced persons will undoubtedly add to the population

already in camps along the border. The \”reorganization\” of

population around the new capital and a recent military

 

BANGKOK 00002826 004 OF 004

 

offensive in Karen State are other sources of renewed

population displacement. Thai officials have downplayed

reports of a major Burmese army offensive in the border

provinces, but note that close to 2,000 new refugees have

arrived in one camp and are awaiting in-processing.

 

WE WELCOME YOUR VISIT

 

13. (U) I\’m looking forward to catching up and to hosting

you for dinner.

 

Skip

BOYCE

Written by thaicables

July 11, 2011 at 8:14 am

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