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Cablegate: Thailand Country Clearance for Staffdel Blank

VZCZCXYZ0008
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBK #1838/01 0870832
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 280832Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5907
INFO RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI PRIORITY 5475
RUEHVN/AMEMBASSY VIENTIANE PRIORITY 3499
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 2937
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 9096

UNCLAS BANGKOK 001838

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/MLS AND H - PATRICIA DIGGS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OTRA AMGT OREP ASEC AFIN TH
SUBJECT: THAILAND COUNTRY CLEARANCE FOR STAFFDEL BLANK

REF: A. STATE 36931
B. HIGGINS-GREENBERG E-MAIL (3/27/07)

1. Post warmly welcomes and grants country clearance to Dr.
Jonah Blank for his March 31 - April 1 transit.

2. Hotel reservations have been made at:

Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel
999 Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel
Moo 1 Mongprue Bang Phil
Samutprakam, Bangkok
Tel: 66-2-131-1111
Fax: 66-2-131-1188

Reservation confirmation number: 122840.

The room rate is 4,240 Thai Baht, net (taxes and American
breakfast included) and within per diem. There is an
additional charge for breakfast.

3. Embassy point of contact is Deputy Political Counselor
David R. Greenberg, who can be reached as follows:

Work phone: (66-2) 205-4816
Cell phone: (66-81) 920-1084
Unclass E-mail Address: greenbergdr@state.gov

SIPDIS

The after-hours emergency number for the Embassy is (66-2)
205-4108.

4. Per ref B, we understand that the Department will
transmit authorization for Embassy Vientiane to disburse per
diem for the staffdel's transit through Thailand.

5. Although visas are not required of holders of U.S.
passports (whether diplomatic, official or tourist) who plan
to stay fewer than 30 days, post nonetheless recommends that
TDY travelers obtain an official visa before coming to
Thailand. It is extremely difficult to extend the 30-day
entry permit granted without a visa at the airport, and fines
for overstays are costly.

6. SECURITY INFORMATION

-----------------------------------------
A. MANDATORY PERSONAL SECURITY TRAINING:
-----------------------------------------

-- 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
sporadic 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.

-------------
C. TRAFFIC:
-------------

-- The traffic situation in Bangkok can be difficult and
dangerous for both pedestrians and vehicle occupants. All
visitors should be a1ert 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.

--------------
D. TERRORISM:
--------------

-- The threat from transnational terrorist groups to the
U.S. Mission in Bangkok is currently ranked medium. 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 review 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 US Embassy Bangkok, we hope you have
a safe and pleasant visit.
ARVIZU

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