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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09JAKARTA447 2009-03-13 09:37:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Jakarta
Cable title:  

ASEAN SECRETARIAT -- POSITIVE MOMENTUM ON TIES

Tags:   PREL KTIA ASEAN ID 
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VZCZCXRO8554
OO RUEHDT RUEHPB
DE RUEHJA #0447/01 0720937
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 130937Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1825
INFO RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 JAKARTA 000447 

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, EAP/RSP
NSD FOR E.PHU

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/13/2019
TAGS: PREL KTIA ASEAN ID
SUBJECT: ASEAN SECRETARIAT -- POSITIVE MOMENTUM ON TIES
WITH U.S.

REF: A. CANBERRA 239

B. 08 JAKARTA 2266

Classified By: Pol/C Joseph L. Novak, reasons 1.4(b+d).



1. (C) SUMMARY: The Secretary's February 18 visit to the
ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta has generated positive momentum
regarding U.S. engagement with Southeast Asia. ASEAN
Secretariat officials welcome the U.S. decision to pursue
accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation and look
forward to working with us on this process. They described a
greater role for the Secretariat following the recent ASEAN
Summit and entry into force of the ASEAN Charter.
Indonesians increasingly seek to play a leading role in the
regional organization and call for it to do more to promote
democracy and human rights. END SUMMARY.

LOOKING FORWARD TO TAC ACCESSION



2. (C) ASEAN Secretariat officials in a March 12 meeting
with poloff welcomed Secretary Clinton's visit and
announcement that the United States would begin the formal
process toward accession to the Treaty of Amity and
Cooperation (TAC). Thailand, as ASEAN Chair would be our
partner negotiating the instrument of accession, according to
Termsak Chalermpalanupap, Special Assistant to the Secretary
General. Termsak noted that he and other Secretariat
officials have facilitated numerous previous TAC accessions
and will work with the USG and RTG to move the process
forward.



3. (C) Secretariat officials emphasized that the TAC is
primarily a political rather than a legal document. It
reflects acceptance of broad principals of cooperation and
peaceful coexistence. It does not commit the partner to
specific actions. Officials noted that ASEAN has never
invoked the TAC "to stop" any signatory from taking specific
actions, nor has it been used to compel a signatory to do
something.



4. (C) ASEAN officials understand that the United States may
have concerns about elements of the TAC. They suggested that
the process of Australia's accession may be a useful model
for us to follow. (Note: Ref A reviews this in more
detail.) Australia raised two key concerns, according to
Termsak:

--Would accession to the TAC have an impact on its relations
with non-ASEAN signatories (such as North Korea)?

--Would the TAC impose any legally binding restrictions on
Australian foreign policy (e.g. could ASEAN invoke the
treaty's non-interference provision in an attempt to halt
Australian criticism of Burma)?

Secretariat officials assured us that accession to the TAC
entailed no such limits or obligations. Termsak promised to
provide us with an exchange of correspondence between the
governments of Australia and Laos (the ASEAN Chair at the
time of Australia's accession) and other documents that
clarified these matters. (Note: Mission will forward these
items to Ambassador Marciel and to EAP/MTS and EAP/RSP.)

EMPOWERING THE SECRETARIAT



5. (SBU) In a diplomatic corps briefing on the recent ASEAN
Summit held on March 12, Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan
outlined a greater role for the Secretariat. An important
aspect of this effort will be the establishment of a
permanent Committee of Permanent Representatives (CPR) based
at the Secretariat. The CPR will replace the current ASEAN
Standing Committee as the organization's key coordinating
body. Surin hopes to center more of the organization's
activities at the Secretariat as a way to cut down on the
proliferation of meetings. (Note: Last year, ASEAN held
over 700 separate meetings on a variety of subjects.) The
regional body plans to add 26 new staff positions over a
four-year expansion to meet the administrative demands of
these enhanced responsibilities.



6. (C) The Secretariat is also moving forward with plans to
create an ASEAN Human Rights Network. The Network will
consist of university-based centers that will conduct
teaching and research on human rights-related topics. The
Secretariat does not want the Network to be an official ASEAN
entity because the organization's consensus decision-making
process would allow countries like Burma to block any

JAKARTA 00000447 002 OF 002


worthwhile initiatives. However, the Secretariat endorsed
the Network and will support it financially. ASEAN officials
told us they hope the Network will put pressure on the ASEAN
Human Rights Body (AHRB) to take more decisive action re
human rights violations within SE Asia.



7. (C) Secretariat officials are still considering locations
for the Network centers and expect the first to be
established in Singapore, probably in cooperation with the
National University of Singapore. Subsequent centers will
likely be established in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and
the Philippines. It is unlikely that the Network will have
any presence in Burma, Laos or Cambodia for the near future.
At our suggestion, the Secretariat will look for ways that
any Indonesia-based center can cooperate with the Indonesian
government's Bali Democracy Forum (see ref B).

PRESSING INDONESIAN LEADERSHIP



8. (C) Indonesian leaders are cautiously pushing the
regional organization to play a more active role. Following
the recent ASEAN Summit, President Yudhoyono called for ASEAN
to engage in a more inclusive dialogue with NGOs and civil
society groups in areas like human rights, the environment
and sustainable development. He reiterated Indonesia's view
that the AHRB must be a credible body devoted to promoting
human rights, the rule of law and freedom of expression.



9. (C) In this statement, Yudhoyono walked a fine line, as
ASEAN's principle of non-interference in each other's
internal affairs remains a deeply held value by many senior
Indonesian officials. However, many influential foreign
policy thinkers, parliamentarians and NGOs here have become
increasingly impatient with what they see as ASEAN's
constraints on Indonesian actions. They believe that
Indonesia, as ASEAN's largest member, should be more
aggressive in leading the organization.

HEFFERN