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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
02RANGOON1580
2002-12-11 09:14:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Rangoon
Cable title:  

ASSK TALKS BIG PICTURE WITH NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR

Tags:  PREL EAID BM TH ASSK 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L RANGOON 001580 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/BCLTV - PLEASE PASS TO USAID/ANE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/11/2012
TAGS: PREL EAID BM TH ASSK
SUBJECT: ASSK TALKS BIG PICTURE WITH NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR
DEMOCRACY'S AMBRAMOWITZ


Classified By: COM CARMEN M. MARTINEZ FOR REASON 1.5(D).



1. (C) Summary: Following meetings with several SPDC
officials, former Ambassador Morton Ambramowitz met at the
EMR with NLD Secretary Aung San Suu Kyi on December 5th. The
COM and the PAO were also present. In a discussion that
lasted nearly two hours, Ambramowitz checked his impressions
and the assertions of the SPDC officials with ASSK. He asked
for ASSK's reading of the gravity of the situation facing the
country and the prospects for change, and her views on how
best to provide humanitarian assistance. End Summary.



2. (U) The former ambassador, now a Director of the National
Endowment for Democracy, had met earlier with the Home,
Labor, and Education Ministers, as well as with Kyaw Thein
and Hla Min. A meeting with S1 General Khin Nyunt was
cancelled at the last minute. Ambramowitz reported that a
theme he had not heard in his last visit in 1997, the
"integration of the ethnic nationalities," permeated all his
discussions with SPDC officials. Most officials averred that
there was no economic crisis, and the SPDC was moving at its
own pace toward transition, because the integration of the
nationalities was not secure enough to move precipitously to
a new arrangement.



3. (C) ASSK replied that in her recent visit to Shan State
she found "strong solidarity between the ethnicities and us"
and greater support than the NLD enjoyed twelve years ago.
She said she was encouraged that the Shans had evidently laid
aside ethnic considerations and had recognized that the most
important need was for political change. Even in the go-go
border town of Tachileik, she found "amazing support,"
signifying that the merchants dependent on the border trade
had realized that there could be no economic development
without political change. She indicated that she would
complete a round of visits to each of the States during this
dry season.



4. (C) Ambramowitz asked whether a "humanitarian crisis"
exists and, if so, should more assistance be given, even if
through the Burmese Government? ASSK agreed there were very
serious problems, such as HIV/AIDS, the quality of education,
and the health care system. While she said she didn't
believe the system was on the verge of collapse, something
very small could spark "unforeseen circumstances." She said
that assistance programs should be expanded, but not through
the SPDC. Although she allowed there have to be dealings
with the government, there should be "no compromise" on the
basic requirements for accountability, transparency,
independent monitoring, and providing no benefit to the SPDC.
She offered the Network Project (a UNICEF early childhood
development program) as an example of a program that worked
without helping the SPDC and promoted pluralism at the same
time. She expressed dismay that USG assistance for this
project may not be continued.



5. (C) She complained that the SPDC was able to "pressurize"
the UN agencies against cooperating with her, and asked, if
UN agencies cave in to pressure on this front "how can we
trust them" on other matters. She pointed out it must be
questioned whether humanitarian assistance would help the
Burmese people provide for themselves in the future. "Are
they going to survive just to die another day? Or are they
going to survive to change the system?"



6. (C) Ambramowitz said he was leaving Burma with the
impression that the current regime would make very little
effort to deal with her or to move toward civilian
government, and asked whether the only way to effect change
under these circumstances would be to encourage a split in
the military. ASSK agreed he was "basically right" and that
it was probably Sr. General Than Shwe who opposed change.
She opined that he could not be as firmly in control as is
supposed because he is "too lazy to do his homework" and lets
people around him do all the work. She said the
international community must keep up the pressure, continue
to point out that change is inevitable and at the same time,
make clear to those in the military that favor political
change that reasonable elements are appreciated, and give
them more confidence.



7. (C) As the discussion wound down, ASSK said it was
necessary to continue to "work on practical terms" and "build
up the strength of the people -- but that's our (e.g. the
party's) job and . . . we're not doing badly." She said
although she cannot say the NLD as an organization is getting
stronger -- citing the stumbling blocks to opening branch
offices including harassment by local PDC's and USDA's --
support for the party is getting much stronger.
Martinez