|05RANGOON1015||2005-09-02 05:30:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Rangoon|
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 RANGOON 001015
1. (SBU) Summary: Thai FM Kantathi Suphamongkhon made a
24-hour visit to Rangoon August 31-September 1, his first to
Burma as Foreign Minister. The highlight of the trip was a
bilateral meeting with State Peace and Development (SPDC)
Chairman Than Shwe, joined by Vice Chairman Maung Aye and
other top regime generals. The visit met a Thai objective to
rebuild a rapport with the regime in the post-Khin Nyunt era,
and also helped extinguish lingering rumors that Than Shwe
had recently suffered a serious medical setback or that he
and Maung Aye are involved in a power struggle. All signs
indicate that Than Shwe remains firmly at the top of the food
chain and faces no immediate threat to his authority. End
2. (U) FM Kantathi, who arrived by a "special flight" on
August 31, met on the morning of September 1 with SPDC
Chairman Senior General Than Shwe. The scheduled
thirty-minute courtesy call, which took place at the
"Credentials Hall" of the Parliament Building, turned into a
broad exchange of views and lasted nearly an hour and half.
Joining Than Shwe were SPDC Vice Chairman Vice Senior General
Maung Aye, SPDC member and Joint Chief of Staff General Thura
Shwe Mann, Prime Minister General Soe Win, Secretary-1 Lt-Gen
Thein Sein, and FM Nyan Win.
3. (C) According to a Thai Embassy source, who spent most of
the visit with FM Kantathi, Senior General Than Shwe was in
"very good" health, taking the lead and spending the first 35
minutes of the bilateral meeting briefing Kantathi "without a
pause." The Thai source observed that Maung Aye made no
interventions at the meeting, but added that relations among
the top generals appeared to be entirely normal, with no
signs of disunity or friction.
4. (C) The Thai Embassy source added that neither Than Shwe
nor Kantathi raised any contentious issues, since this was "a
first visit, designed to establish a good rapport."
Kantathi, said the source, did not raise the detention of
Aung San Suu Kyi (although he apparently intimated he had
done so in a post-meeting press conference in Rangoon). Than
Shwe did raise issues related to ASSK and the National League
for Democracy (NLD) in his opening brief.
5. (C) According to the Thai Embassy, Kantathi stuck to his
schedule, although he dropped several "private visits" to
tourist sites in order to phone his counterpart in Kuala
Lumpur to discuss an urgent situation involving dozens of
Thai citizens crossing the Thai-Malaysian border (NFI).
Kantathi visited the University for Development of National
Races, where he made a two million Baht cash donation, and
held a separate bilateral meeting with FM Nyun Win.
6. (C) Comment: Although very few local observers still
cling to last week's speculation that Than Shwe had recently
suffered a debilitating medical setback or that Than Shwe and
Maung Aye are involved in a power struggle (reftels),
Kantathi's visit finally extinguished rumors that persisted
because the regime's top two leaders had not made a public
appearance since the rumors began. Health problems or
intra-regime tensions are not out of the question, but all
signs indicate that Than Shwe remains firmly at the top of
the heap. End Comment.