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Cablegate: Thailand Country Clearance for Deputy Assistant

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBK #4982/01 2601207
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 171207Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9664

UNCLAS BANGKOK 004982

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OTRA AMGT TH
SUBJECT: THAILAND COUNTRY CLEARANCE FOR DEPUTY ASSISTANT
SECRETARY JOHN A. GASTRIGHT, BUREAU OF SOUTH AND CENTRAL


SIPDIS
ASIAN AFFAIRS:

REF: NONE

1. Post warmly welcomes and grants country clearance for DAS
JOHN A. GASTRIGHT from September 20-21, 2007.

2. We understand that no assistance is needed from post.
After-hours emergency number for the Embassy is (66-2)
205-4108.

3. Due to limited resources and easy availability of airport
transportation, post policy does no allow for airport meet
and assist. Thai Airways Limousine Service and American
Express Airport Taxi are recommended for persons unfamiliar
with Bangkok; these services are located on the 2nd floor of
Suvarnabhumi Airport (http://www.bangkokairportonline.com)
for arriving passengers and the cost of a one-way trip varies
from 700 to 1,500 Baht, depending on the type of vehicle,
with an additional 70 Baht for highway tolls. The new
airport currently has limited facilities for regular taxis in
the main terminal (located on the ground floor) and if no
taxis are available there, arriving passengers will have to
board an airport shuttle bus from the main terminal to a
nearby taxi and bus terminal. Regular taxis cost
approximately 250 Baht, not including tolls, and an airport
taxi surcharge of 50 Baht. Currently, the Thai Baht is
approximately 34.50/dollar.

4. 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.

5. Temporary memberships to Bangkok's Commissary (Emporium)
may be granted to U.S. Government personnel traveling through
Thailand on TDY orders. TDYers who wish to shop in the
Commissary MUST present his/her official or Diplomatic U.S.
passport to the Commissary Office along with a copy of this
Country Clearance telegram or Official Orders to gain access.
Membership fees will not be charged to visitors with less
than 30 days scheduled in-country, however, the Commissary
charges membership fees US $3.00 per month) for those on TDY
status in country for more than 30 days.

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 alert 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.
BOYCE

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