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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
07SINGAPORE2086 2007-11-20 11:48:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Singapore
Cable title:  

BURMA: DIVIDED ASEAN CANCELS GAMBARI SUMMIT

Tags:   PGOV PREL PHUM SN BU ASEAN 
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VZCZCXRO1024
PP RUEHDT RUEHPB
DE RUEHGP #2086/01 3241148
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 201148Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4465
INFO RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0496
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0305
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0137
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 SINGAPORE 002086 

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EAP/MLS FOR AARON COPE
EAP/MTS FOR MICHAEL TAYLOR

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/20/2017
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM SN BU ASEAN
SUBJECT: BURMA: DIVIDED ASEAN CANCELS GAMBARI SUMMIT
BRIEFING

REF: A. SINGAPORE 2075

B. SINGAPORE 2085

Classified By: DCM Daniel Shields, reason 1.4 (b) and (d).



1. (C) Summary: ASEAN leaders canceled a planned briefing of
the East Asia Summit (EAS) by UN Special Advisor Gambari
after Burma strenuously objected during a contentious working
dinner involving the leaders at the ASEAN Summit November 19.
An MFA source told us Burma's representatives had earlier
agreed to the Gambari briefing but apparently had been
overruled by regime higher-ups. Philippine President Arroyo
reportedly warned her colleagues during the dinner that the
Philippines might not ratify ASEAN's landmark Charter if
Burma did not free Aung San Suu Kyi and move toward
democracy. A separate MFA source told us the Philippines and
Singapore were alone within ASEAN in pushing for a harder
line on Burma and that China had agreed to the Gambari
briefing only after tough negotiations. Singapore as ASEAN
Chair issued a statement (see paragraph 7) that reflects
ASEAN's lack of consensus on Burma. It notes both Burma's
objections and the sentiment of "most leaders" that Burma
needs to begin meaningful reform. End Summary.



2. (C) ASEAN leaders announced late November 19 that they had
canceled plans to have UN Special Advisor Ibrahim Gambari
provide a briefing for leaders of the East Asia Summit (EAS),
which includes the ten members of ASEAN plus China, Japan,
South Korea, Australia, India, and New Zealand. Singapore
had arranged Gambari's briefing of the EAS as a means to
focus attention on Burma during the cycle of ASEAN-related
summits being held here November 18-22 (ref A). The decision
followed strenuous objections from Burma that ASEAN was
allowing itself to be used by outside powers to pressure
Burma even as it was cooperating with the UN. MFA ASEAN
Director Deputy Director Wong Chow Ming told E/P Chief
November 20 that Burma's ASEAN representatives had earlier
agreed to the Gambari briefing. Burma had only raised
objections late in the game, which Wong thought indicated the
delegation had been overruled by more senior regime leaders.
Once Burma raised objections, "one or two of its usual
allies" within ASEAN had withdrawn support for the briefing.



3. (C) Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made the
late-night announcement flanked by glum-looking counterparts
from all of the ASEAN member-countries with the notable
exception of Burma. Singapore issued a statement that
appeared to be an effort to reflect the range of views on
Burma (see paragraph 7); it included both Burma's objections
and the view of "most leaders" that Burma must begin to
undertake meaningful reforms. Wong told us that although
Singapore had issued the statement in its capacity as ASEAN
Chair, Burma had participated in the discussion and had
agreed to the draft along with the other nine members. Media
reporting on the leaders' dinner also highlighted Philippines
President Gloria Arroyo' warning that the Philippines might
not ratify the ASEAN Charter (which all ten leaders signed
November 20 -- ref B) if Burma did not free opposition leader
Aung San Suu Kyi and get on the "path of democracy."



4. (C) The statement said Singapore, as ASEAN Chair, would
facilitate meetings for Gambari with "interested parties."
MFA International Organizations Deputy Director for UN issues
Gerard Ho told us that possibility was in doubt early
November 20 because UN SYG Ban Ki-moon was unhappy with the
ASEAN decision and was considering recalling Gambari to New
York. However, Wong later told us that Gambari was in fact
meeting with "interested" ASEAN foreign ministers the evening
of November 20 and would be available to meet seperately with
interestd EAS countries.



5. (C) Press reports indicated some ASEAN members had earlier
grumbled about having Gambari brief the EAS because the EAS
includes countries from outside of ASEAN. But Ho told us
that the main obstacle (prior to Burma's objection) had been
China, which had only agreed to an "informal" briefing of the
EAS after "intense negotiations." But then Burma Prime
Minister Thein Sein had "pulled the plug" during the leaders'
working dinner, insisting Burma's problems were its internal
affairs and that it would only cooperate with the UN. Ho
told us that Burma had been successful in persuading some
members that ASEAN should not allow itself to be used by

SINGAPORE 00002086 002 OF 003


outside powers to pressure it. Thien Sein reportedly
complained that outside countries such as the United States
and Australia had continued to ratchet up the pressure even
though Burma was cooperating with Gambari.



6. (C) Commenting on internal ASEAN dynamics, Ho said that
only Singapore and the Philippines had taken a consistently
tough line on Burma. Malaysia and Indonesia were also
frustrated with Burma, but were less willing to apply
pressure, while Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam were deeply
uncomfortable with criticizing Burma. He also strongly
suggested China had pressed ASEAN to avoid direct pressure on
Burma and said some in ASEAN are unhappy with Singapore for
its strong public statements.



7. (U) Following is the full text of the statement on Burma
Singapore released in its capacity as ASEAN Chair.

Begin text:

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Singapore
November 20 2007

ASEAN Chairman's statement on Myanmar

The ASEAN Leaders had a full and open discussion on the
Myanmar issue at their Informal Working Dinner.

Prime Minister Thein Sein made clear that the situation in
Myanmar was a domestic Myanmar affair and that Myanmar was
fully capable of handling the situation by itself.

Prime Minister Thein Sein explained that UN Secretary-General
Special Advisor Ibrahim Gambari had visited Myanmar four
times, and that Myanmar had implemented many of his
proposals. He emphasized that Professor Gambari should only
report to the UN Security Council and not to ASEAN or the
East Asia Summit (EAS). Myanmar had every confidence in
managing Professor Gambari's mission and the good offices of
the UN.

In view of Myanmar's position, Professor Gambari will not
brief the ASEAN or EAS Leaders. However, Singapore, as ASEAN
Chair, will facilitate Professor Gambari's meetings with
interested parties.

The ASEAN Leaders agreed that ASEAN would respect Myanmar's
wishes and make way for Myanmar to deal directly with the UN
and the International community on its own. ASEAN stands
ready to play a role whenever Myanmar wants it to do so.

The Leaders noted that the recent visits by Professor Gambari
had resulted in several steps in the right direction.

Most Leaders expressed the view that Myanmar could not go
back or stay put. The process of national reconciliation had
to move forward, and the UN played a vital role in this
process.

As had been stated in the statement issued by the ASEAN Chair
in New York in September, the Leaders reiterated that the
Myanmar Government should continue to work with the UN in
order to:

a. Open up a meaningful dialogue with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
and the National League for Democracy (NLD);

b. Make full use of the good offices of the UN
Secretary-General and Professor Gambari in this process;

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c. Lift restrictions on Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and release all
political detainees;

d. Work towards a peaceful transition to democracy; and

e. Address the economic difficulties faced by the people of
Myanmar.

The Leaders emphasized that they will strive to prevent the
Myanmar issue from obstructing ASEAN's integration efforts,
especially the ASEAN Charter and the establishment of the
ASEAN Community.

SINGAPORE 00002086 003 OF 003



.....

19 November 2007

END TEXT

Visit Embassy Singapore's Classified website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/singapore/ind ex.cfm
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