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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
10RANGOON92
2010-02-17 10:17:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Rangoon
Cable title:  

BURMA: U TIN OO, BACK IN THE SADDLE, WELCOMES

Tags:   PGOV  PREL  PHUM  BM 
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ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 171017Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY RANGOON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9853
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2436
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 5931
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 9494
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 7121
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 4769
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2861
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 RANGOON 000092 

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/MLS, AND IO
PACOM FOR FPA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/17/2020
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM BM
SUBJECT: BURMA: U TIN OO, BACK IN THE SADDLE, WELCOMES
U.S. ENGAGEMENT

REF: RANGOON 87

RANGOON 00000092 001.2 OF 002


Classified By: P/E Chief Jennifer Harhigh for Reasons 1.4 (b) & (d)

Summary
-------

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 RANGOON 000092

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/MLS, AND IO
PACOM FOR FPA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/17/2020
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM BM
SUBJECT: BURMA: U TIN OO, BACK IN THE SADDLE, WELCOMES
U.S. ENGAGEMENT

REF: RANGOON 87

RANGOON 00000092 001.2 OF 002


Classified By: P/E Chief Jennifer Harhigh for Reasons 1.4 (b) & (d)

Summary
--------------


1. (C) During a February 16 meeting with recently released
National League for Democracy (NLD) Vice-Chair U Tin Oo, the
Charge described the U.S. Burma policy review, in which the
NLD's views were regularly solicited. U Tin Oo welcomed U.S.
engagement efforts, expecting it will be a long-term process.
He told the Charge he is actively participating in NLD
activities. He reaffirmed that the party has yet to take a
position on the regime's planned 2010 elections. He is
optimistic Aung San Suu Kyi (ASSK) will be released soon. U
Tin Oo expressed appreciation for the United States'
long-standing support for Burma's democracy movement,
including calls for the release of political prisoners. The
82 year old veteran politician appears dedicated and eager to
return to active party politics. End summary.

Supportive of Engagement
--------------


2. (C) The Charge, Pol/Econ Chief, and U Tin Oo had a
cordial forty-five minute meeting at U Tin Oo's residence on
February 16. U Tin Oo was released on February 13 from
nearly seven years in custody, the last six under house
arrest. The CDA welcomed U Tin Oo's freedom, noting that the
USG constantly calls on the GOB to release all of Burma's
remaining political prisoners. The Charge outlined the new
USG approach on Burma, emphasizing that the USG has consulted
closely with the NLD throughout. U Tin Oo was clearly aware
of the U.S. engagement efforts and responded positively,
commenting that he expects it will be a long-term process
resulting in gradual progress.

Back at Work
--------------


3. (C) U Tin Oo confirmed he returned to his leadership
position in the NLD by attending a Central Executive
Committee (CEC) meeting February 15 and chairing the process
to select members of the party's Central Committee from all
states and divisions (Reftel). The Central Committee

selection process is well under way; only two regions have
yet to submit their recommendations. U Tin Oo observed that
a current top priority for the CEC is allaying party member
concerns, presumably expressed during February 15-16
meetings, that the recent CEC expansion was "all from
Rangoon" to the exclusion of outlying states and divisions.
(Note: This corroborates at least one recent press account
that reports dissatisfaction among party members from Bago
Division about the CEC expansion process.)

Too Soon For NLD to Decide Approach to Elections
-------------- ---


4. (C) When asked for his views on the planned 2010
elections, U Tin Oo said that, in the absence of electoral
legislation, it is too soon for the NLD to decide its
position. Although U Tin Oo is aware of the split within the
party between those opposed to participation (led by U Win
Tin) and those inclined to consider possibilities (led by
Khin Maung Swe), he declined to choose sides. He solicited
the Charge's views on how the party should approach the
elections. The CDA observed that only Burma's people can
decide the best course for the country, and only the NLD can
judge whether it makes sense to participate in the elections.
He added that clearly the NLD faces a difficult decision,
with pluses and minuses from all options, so it is no
surprise there are divisions within the party. The CDA
relayed ASSK's comments, as expressed to Senator Webb and A/S

RANGOON 00000092 002.2 OF 002


Campbell, that it will be important for the NLD to wigh both
idealistic and practical considerations in considering how to
achieve best outcomes for
Burma. The CDA noted reports that U Tin Oo in the past paid
particular attention to developing NLD youth and suggested
more such attention would be very helpful.

Optimistic about Eventual ASSK Release
--------------


5. (C) U Tin Oo is optimistic ASSK will be released soon,
noting that in 1995 she was released from detention within
months of his own release. He stressed the crucial role ASSK
can play in national reconciliation, observing that Burma's
ethnic minority groups believe in her support for federalism.
The CDA noted the U.S. sees merit in inclusive dialogue
among all parties in Burma and encourages it at every
opportunity. U Tin Oo lamented Than Shwe's unwillingness to
meet directly with ASSK.

Appreciates USG Support for Democracy Movement
-------------- -


6. (C) On international relations, U Tin Oo said Burma
should seek a peaceful co-existence with other countries. He
noted the reality of Burma's two huge neighbors which make it
important to have powerful other friends; but he rebutted
government propaganda that NLD leaders are "lackeys" of the
West, noting that the party reaches out to all countries that
have shown support for the cause of democracy. He was
extremely grateful for the long-standing support of the U.S.,
referring specifically to the Clinton Administration, for
Burma's democracy movement and especially for the release of
political prisoners, including himself.

Comment: Making Up for Lost Time?
--------------


7. (C) U Tin Oo seemed in good health, although he is
recovering from recent eye surgery and clearly still has
trouble with his vision. He appeared well-versed in current
political developments and told us he regularly listens to
VOA and RFA and reads Newsweek. He also commented he has a
satellite dish, presumably to watch international television
broadcasts.


8. (C) It is too soon to say how the 82 year old Vice
Chair's return to the NLD's leadership will affect the party,
but we are encouraged that he seems energetic and anxious to
tackle party concerns, including how to attract and maintain
youth members. He was released Saturday night and was
already at work Monday morning. By our Tuesday meeting, he
seemed up to speed on current events and focused on the tasks
ahead.
DINGER