wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy Privacy
Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05BANGKOK2318
2005-04-01 06:19:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Bangkok
Cable title:  

THAILAND'S POSITION ON BURMA AND ASEAN: NEW FACE,

Tags:   PREL  PHUM  PGOV  TH  BM  ASEAN  BURMA 
pdf how-to read a cable
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 002318 

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/BCLTV. HQ USPACOM FOR FPA (HUSO)

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/01/2015
TAGS: PREL PHUM PGOV TH BM ASEAN BURMA
SUBJECT: THAILAND'S POSITION ON BURMA AND ASEAN: NEW FACE,
SAME POLICY

REF: STATE 50205

Classified By: Political Counselor Robert Clarke, Reason: 1.4 (b) and (
d)

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 002318

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/BCLTV. HQ USPACOM FOR FPA (HUSO)

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/01/2015
TAGS: PREL PHUM PGOV TH BM ASEAN BURMA
SUBJECT: THAILAND'S POSITION ON BURMA AND ASEAN: NEW FACE,
SAME POLICY

REF: STATE 50205

Classified By: Political Counselor Robert Clarke, Reason: 1.4 (b) and (
d)


1. (C) Summary: The appointment of a new foreign minister,
Kantathi Suphamongkhon, will not substantially change
Thailand's "constructive engagement" policy towards Burma,
according to a key Foreign Ministry (MFA) official
responsible for Burma. Kantathi has already publicly (and
privately) made clear that Thailand will not join a movement
to thwart Burma from assuming the ASEAN chairmanship in 2006
if it has not implemented democratic reforms before then.
The MFA official said the Burma chairmanship issue will be
discussed informally in Cebu, but he doubted that other ASEAN
governments -- despite some recent statements -- were serious
about pressuring Burma on that issue. On related matters,
the "Bangkok Process" appears dead because the SPDC does not
want to engage potential critics while it still has not
achieved any reform progress with which to respond. The Thai
believe that the European Union (EU) is on the verge of
softening its policy towards Burma. End Summary.


2. (C) On March 22, Post conveyed reftel para 5 talking
points in a non-paper to MFA and, on March 31, PolCouns
followed up with Director Damrong Kriakruan, the senior
working level official handling Burma. Many of reftel's
points were also raised with new Foreign Minister Kantathi
Suphamongkhon on March 30 by visiting Ambassador to Korea and
A/S Designate for EAP Christopher Hill (septel), by visiting
Congressman Adam Smith (D, WA) in a separate meeting, by
Ambassador Boyce in both meetings, and underscored in a paper
the Ambassador left with the FM.


3. (C) On March 31, Polcouns and Poloff Sweeney reiterated
the reftel points, elaborating on the negative U.S. view of
recent developments in Burma and asking for the RTG's latest
thinking on its own Burma policy and the Burma ASEAN
chairmanship issue. Damrong responded that he expected to

brief FM Kanthathi in the near future on the details of
Thailand's "Myanmar" policy, but it already seemed clear that
no change in the "constructive engagement" approach is in the
offing. He said that Kanthati has already publicly stated
his disagreement with the idea put forward by some other
ASEANs to put pressure on Burma to implement democratic
reforms or forgo assuming the ASEAN chairmanship for 2006-7.
He said he expected that the RTG will continue to dialogue
with the SPDC and, while there are no specific plans yet for
Kantathi to travel to Burma, the FM will take time to
approach the SPDC as he has had no personal contact with the
Burmese generals. Damrong noted that the plan from former FM
Surakiart's tenure for an informal "high level meeting" with
Burmese General Thura Shwe Mann in late May is still on the
calendar. He said that MFA has also been approached by both
SPDC FM Nyan Win and PM Soe Win about visiting Thailand, but
the RTG has not responded.


4. (C) Carefully emphasizing that it was only his personal
view, Damrong said there might be some room for "fine tuning"
in Burma relations as Kantathi had also recently been quoted
as saying that the RTG "won't let the Burma issue compromise
Thailand's regional standing." This, he said, could mean
there is a limit to how much the Thais could really engage
the Rangoon regime, and might possibly result in "a slight
step back" from pursuing the bilateral ties.


5. (C) Damrong also opined, however, that recent calls by
Malaysian and Singapore MPs and officials to bring up the
Burma chairmanship issue in Cebu later this month are mainly
"a show," allowed by many ASEAN governments, including the
RTG, to highlight concerns to Burma while keeping the ASEAN
mechanism and policy of non-interference essentially
unchanged. The Thai view, he commented wryly, is "Let
Kraisak make the noise," a reference to Senator Kraisak
Choonhavan, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee, who is a vocal critic of the Burmese regime. And
Damrong said that he did not expect that, in the end, other
ASEAN governments would join a serious consensus to pressure
the Burmese, not even the Malaysians. (Note: On March 29,
it was reported locally that Prime Minister Thaksin --
supposedly commenting on a statement made by Malaysian FM
Syed Hamid Albar to the effect that the Burma chairmanship
issue could only be decided by a full ASEAN consensus --
agreed that "all ASEAN members together will have to find a
solution and decide how to show collective concern to Myanmar
for its adjustment." End Note.)


6. (C) Damrong said he nevertheless did expect the Burma
chairmanship issue to be discussed extensively at the ASEAN
ministerial "retreat" in Cebu although, in line with ASEAN
traditions, the issue does not even appear on the "indicative
list" (informal agenda) for that meeting. However, he also
noted that Burma is aware that it has about 15 months left
until the ASEAN ministerial in November 2006, enough time to
run through its National Convention constitution-drafting
exercise and a possible referendum, which will probably be
"good enough for ASEAN."


7. (C) Damrong commented that the "Bangkok Process" is
definitely dead as the SPCD does not want to participate in
meetings with Europeans and others where they (the Burmese)
have nothing to talk about in terms of democratic openings
and only open themselves up to criticism. Damrong also
mentioned that he had a follow-on meeting that morning with a
local representative of the European Commission (EC) who
apparently wanted to discuss contemplated changes in European
Union policy towards Burma in the direction of resuming
high-level visits, restoring some European aid programs, and
easing up on European use of sanctions. After that meeting,
Damrong told PolCouns that the EU seems to moving to these
revised positions.
ARVIZU