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Cablegate: Asean Favors Engagement with Burma, May Delay Burma's

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FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6583
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0919
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RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS JAKARTA 002817

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DEPT PASS USTR FOR KATZ AND BROOKS
DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/RSP, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS
DEPT FOR EB/IFD/OMA
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TREASURY FOR IA-SETH SEARLS
COMMERCE FOR 4430/[GOLIKE]

E.O. 12598: N/A
TAGS: ECON PHUM PREL PGOV KDEM ID BM
SUBJECT: ASEAN FAVORS ENGAGEMENT WITH BURMA, MAY DELAY BURMA'S
CHARTER SIGNATURE

1. (SBU) Summary. ASEAN Secretariat staff express hope that momentum
for stronger ASEAN condemnation of Burmese repression will continue
to build, but also maintain that an increase in economic engagement
is the best way to affect political change in Burma. ASEAN may
delay Burma's signing of the ASEAN Charter. However, Secretariat
staff do not believe this delay will impact ASEAN decision making or
operations going forward. End Summary.

Secretariat Asserts Engagement with Burma

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Best Way Forward
----------------

2. (SBU) In recent discussions with Post, ASEAN Secretariat staff
expressed hope that momentum for stronger ASEAN condemnation of
Burmese repression would continue to build, but also maintained that
an increase in economic engagement is the best way to affect
political change in Burma. Secretariat officials also indicated that
ASEAN is currently debating the appropriateness of Burma signing the
ASEAN Charter in Singapore next month. Some member countries have
argued that having Burma sign the Charter will provide ASEAN with a
stronger mechanism to force change in the current Burmese regime.
However, given that the Charter will not contain a significant
enforcement mechanism or requirement for expulsion in the face of
human rights abuses, the Secretariat believes member countries will
merely delay Burma's signing of the document until an unspecified
date.

3. (SBU) The Secretariat asserted that a delay in Burma's signing
will not have a significant impact on ASEAN decision making going
forward. ASEAN does not have legally binding agreements that will
be impacted Burma's exclusion from the ASEAN Charter. Secretariat
officials also noted that the current Charter draft is unlikely to
contain a strong dispute settlement mechanism or general compliance
rules for all ASEAN agreements because of difficulty in reaching
political consensus on these items. Instead, ASEAN plans to
negotiate compliance and enforcement issues on an
agreement-by-agreement basis. Secretariat officials also noted that
ASEAN plans to introduce legally binding agreements in the economic
realm over the next few years to facilitate integration. However,
they conceded that ASEAN would likely avoid pushing for binding
political agreements until all member countries understand and
accepted the agreement enforcement mechanism.

HEFFERN

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