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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05BANGKOK6650
2005-10-21 02:01:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Bangkok
Cable title:  

COUNTRY CLEARANCE GRANTED FOR EAP/MLS THAI DESK

Tags:  OTRA TH 
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						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 006650 

SIPDIS

EAP/MLS FOR HIGGINS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OTRA TH
SUBJECT: COUNTRY CLEARANCE GRANTED FOR EAP/MLS THAI DESK
OFFICER MELANIE HIGGINS

REF: SECSTATE 193032



1. Embassy warmly welcomes visit of EAP/MLS Thailand desk
officer Melanie Higgins and grants country clearance. Point
of contact for the Bangkok portion of her travel is Political
Officer Jim Cole (O) 02 205 4816 (C) 01 868-0498 (H) 02
287-4652.



2. Hotel reservations have been made at the Conrad Hotel,
All Seasons Place, 87 Wireless Road, Bangkok, Tel: (66-2)
690-9999, Fax: (66-2) 690-9000). Currently, the Thai Baht
is approximately 40/dollar.



3. Thailand has an airport departure tax of 500 Baht that
must be paid in local currency upon departure.



4. (SBU) SECURITY INFORMATION



A. MANDATORY PERSONAL SECURITY TRAINING:

- (U) All U.S. citizen personnel serving under Chief of
Mission authority in a temporary duty status of 30 days or
more must complete appropriate overseas personal security
training prior to travel (04 State 66580). Employees who
have completed the Security Overseas Seminar Course at
State's Foreign Service Institute (FSI) after June 1, 2000
meet this requirement. All other TDYers must either 1)
complete the approved four-day seminar at FSI entitled
"Serving Abroad for Families & Employees (SAFE)" or 2) have
their agency certify to the State Department Bureau of
Diplomatic Security that the employee has undergone
equivalent security training. The contact for this
certification is Assistant Director of training, DS/T, at
telephone (703) 205-2617. Country clearance will not be
granted for any traveler with planned TDY in excess of 30
days if this information is not stated/certified. POC for
additional information is DS RSOBangkok@state.gov.



B. CRIME:

Crime is generally non-confrontational in nature. Criminal
acts are usually crimes of opportunity such as
purse-snatchings, thefts of unattended property, and pick
pocketing. Visitors should be especially alert in crowded
buses, streets, and markets or while on "tuk-tuks." Visitors
should lock valuables in hotel safe deposit boxes not in
their hotel rooms.

Be aware of common scams and frauds (including credit cards,
in particular). Visitors should only use credit cards at
well-established and reputable businesses. Visitors should
be careful when purchasing branded or copyrighted goods.
There are many pirated counterfeit products in the
marketplace; their purchase is against post regulations and
it is illegal to import these products into the U.S. Be wary
of common scams for jewelry, suits, silks, gems, or
antiquities. There are no Thai government-owned or sponsored
gem stores. If victimized, seek assistance from Tourist
Police by dialing 1155.

Visitors are cautioned from visiting bars involved in the sex
trade. Many of these operate illegally and clients can be
subject to RTG law; they often charge exorbitant drink prices
and cover charges. There are also many incidents of crime
against patrons in these establishments. Drugging and
robbing of unwary individuals is not uncommon. There are
frequent reports of victims being drugged and robbed or
beaten when visiting these bars. The drugs used can cause
serious temporary memory impairment, unconsciousness, and if
overdosed, death.

TRAFFIC:

The traffic situation in Bangkok can be difficult and
dangerous for both pedestrians and vehicle occupants. All
visitors should be alert to traffic patterns and unexpected
motorcycle drivers. Traffic drives on the left-hand side,
opposite from the U.S., although there may be a bus lane that
flows in the opposite direction. Pedestrians should use the
overhead walkways for crossing busy streets.

TERRORISM:

The threat from transnational terrorist groups to the U.S.
Mission in Bangkok is currently ranked high. Despite stepped
up RTG efforts to monitor its borders, they remain relatively
porous and allow easy illegal access. Transnational terrorist
groups, including Al-Qa-ida and Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), have
utilized Thailand as a transit point.

The threat from indigenous terrorist groups is currently
rated as low. There is no evidence to indicate that
indigenous terrorist groups are planning acts against U.S.
personnel or facilities. The far south of Thailand has
experienced incidents of criminally and politically motivated
violence, including incidents attributed to armed local
Muslim separatist groups. Although Americans have not been
specifically targeted in the past, the indiscriminate nature
of past attacks by these groups - including bombings of
public places - indicates a potential threat to American
citizens.

The State Department is concerned that there is an increased
risk of terrorism in Southeast Asia, including Thailand.
Travelers to Thailand should therefore exercise caution,
especially in locations where Westerners congregate, such as
clubs, discos, bars, restaurants, hotels, tourist areas, and
other places frequented by foreigners.



E. OTHER SECURITY TIPS:

- Visitors should avoid making any pejorative comments about
any members of the Thai Royal Family or engaging in
disrespectful conduct within temples or toward religious
objects. Such behavior can result in arrest and/or expulsion
from Thailand.

- Precautions should also be taken not to discuss sensitive
or classified matters outside secure environments or over
unsecured and/or cellular telephones, and to securely
safeguard classified or sensitive materials at the Chancery
and not at hotels or residences.

- Visitors should also be aware of the State Department's
Consular Information Sheet for Thailand and the most recent
Worldwide Caution Public Announcements, which are available
via the Internet at http://travel.state.gov. DOD personnel
must review the PACOM Force Protection Levels for Thailand
found at http://131.84.1.218/staff/at/athome.shtml.

- In essence, visitors to Bangkok must exercise appropriate
caution and be alert to their surroundings with regard to
their personal security. Suspicious incidents/activities
should be reported to RSO Bangkok (Tel. 02-205-4000, 24
hrs/day). On behalf of U.S. Embassy Bangkok, we hope you
have a safe and pleasant visit.
BOYCE