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Cablegate: First Tranche of Usg Cyclone Assistance Arrives In

VZCZCXRO2563
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHGO #0357/01 1340458
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 130458Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY RANGOON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7562
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1174
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 1871
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 4876
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 4718
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 8262
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 5824
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 1470
RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI 1586
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL KOLKATA 0328
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 3696
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1591
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 RANGOON 000357

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS, SES-O, INR/EAP
BANGKOK FOR USAID/OFDA DART LEADER
DEPT PASS TO USAID/OFDA
PACOM FOR FPA
TREASURY FOR OASIA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID ECON PGOV PREL BM
SUBJECT: FIRST TRANCHE OF USG CYCLONE ASSISTANCE ARRIVES IN
BURMA

REF: RANGOON 352 AND PREVIOUS

RANGOON 00000357 001.2 OF 003


1. (SBU) Summary. USAID Administrator Henrietta Fore and
PACOM Commander Admiral Timothy J. Keating on May 12
delivered the first tranche of USG assistance to Burma,
including bottled water, blankets, and mosquito nets. During
a meeting with Burmese Commander of the Navy Vice Admiral Soe
Thein and other GOB officials, Administrator Fore and Admiral
Keating offered continued U.S. assistance, including
additional C130s with relief supplies, civilian and military
disaster relief experts, and military support. After
thanking the U.S. delegation for its offer, the Burmese
Government officials noted that the GOB was only accepting
relief supplies at this time. GOB officials identified
potable water, food, construction supplies, and fuel as their
top priority needs. Vice Admiral Soe Thein also noted that
the U.S. could provide assistance to Burma without an
established Memorandum of Understanding. Burma continues to
receive substantial aid from neighboring countries, with an
average of 10 support flights arriving in Rangoon daily. End
Summary.

2. (SBU) The first tranche of USG humanitarian assistance
to Burma arrived on May 12 with the landing of a C-130 filled
with supplies. USAID Administrator Henrietta Fore, PACOM
Commander Timothy Keating, DAS Scott Marciel, and USAID/OFDA
DART Leader William Berger presented to the Burmese
Government, represented by Deputy Minister of Social Welfare
Brig. General Kyaw Myint, 8,300 bottles of water, 10,800
mosquito nets, and 1,350 blankets. After the presentation,
the U.S. delegation met with Burmese officials, including
Commander of the Navy Vice Admiral Soe Thein, Deputy Foreign
Minister U Kyaw Thu, Brig. General Kyaw Myint, Commodore Win
Shein, Commander of the Irrawaddy Naval Region, Commander of
the Mingaladon Air Force Base Brig. General Zin Yaw, Foreign
Relations Director for the Defense Attache Corps Colonel San
Nyunt Oo, Deputy Director General of Protocol U Soe Win, and
Director General of the Fire Brigade U Myint Tun.

Only Commodities Needed
-----------------------

3. (SBU) Vice Admiral Soe Thein thanked the United States
Government for its support and donation to the Burmese
people. He observed that the Burmese navy was playing a
significant role in relief operations, working with NGOs and
other government agencies to help the Burmese people. The
cyclone did a lot of damage, and he added it would take time
and hard work to recover. Currently, more than 386,000
displaced Burmese are living in more than 15 temporary camps
in the Irrawaddy Delta region. Many of them will live in the
camps for more than two months as the GOB and NGOs work to
repair the damage caused by the cyclone. Vice Admiral Soe
Thein identified potable water and food as the people's most
immediate needs. While the health of the people remains a
concern, Vice Admiral Soe Thein noted that the GOB and NGOs
are sending medicines and doctors to the region and that
there have not yet been any disease epidemics in the region.
When asked by Administrator Fore, Vice Admiral Soe Thein
indicated that the NGOs had been distributing relief supplies
on their own.

4. (SBU) USAID Administrator Fore, Admiral Keating, and
AID/OFDA DART Leader William Berger explained to the GOB that
the USG was prepared to assist the Burmese in a myriad of
ways, including continued C130 support flights with relief

RANGOON 00000357 002.2 OF 003


supplies including water purification capability, the
provision of civilian and military disaster response experts,
and military support. Admiral Keating emphasized that the
U.S. military, which could provide support in a matter of
days, respected the sovereign authority of the GOB and would
not enter Burma without an invitation. The U.S. military was
willing to be flexible and creative, and the Burmese
Government could decide how to best use U.S. military
resources and assets to meet the needs of its people.
Admiral Keating extended to Admiral Soe Thane a personal
invitation to visit the USS Essex to observe its capacity as
a relief platform. Bill Berger observed that the USAID DART
teams, with expertise in providing shelter, health, and water
sanitation, respond to more than 67 disasters a year. These
teams stood ready to come into Burma to assist in disaster
recovery, he explained. Administrator Fore inquired whether
the Burmese Government needed the USG to sign a memorandum of
understanding for the delivery of relief supplies and
expertise.

5. (SBU) After the presentation, Vice Admiral Soe Thein
again thanked the United States for its offer and noted that
he would raise the issue with the Prime Minister, who is the
overall coordinator for assistance. He then stated that
there was no need for an MOU between the U.S. and Burma
because it was "just a matter of one country helping out
another country." The GOB was meeting the needs of the people
he declared, and it was working to improve its coordination
with the NGOs working in the Irrawaddy Delta. He then
reiterated that the GOB was in need of commodities, such as
potable water, foodstuffs, and shelters. Deputy Foreign
Minister Kyaw Thu noted that the United States could also
provide diesel fuel and construction materials, which would
be used to rebuild homes for thousands of homeless Burmese.
The GOB continues to receive humanitarian assistance and
relief supplies from neighboring countries, with an average
of 10 planes arriving daily. Two C130s from Malaysia, one
from India, and one from Greece arrived carrying food and
shelter supplies.

6. (SBU) Administrator Fore and Admiral Keating agreed on
the need for relief supplies, and pledged to include
additional water, blankets, food, mosquito nets, and hygiene
kits on future C-130 flights. Two U.S. planes are scheduled
to arrive in Burma on May 13 and the Burmese indicated their
receptivity to additional flights later this week. After the
meeting, the Burmese officials escorted the U.S. delegation
to the Mingaladon Air Force base, where the GOB collects and
houses relief supplies. They witnessed two helicopters
carrying USAID supplies taking off for the Irrawaddy Delta.

Comment
-------

7. (SBU) Although many of the military officers seemed
extremely pleased with the visit of Administrator Fore and
Admiral Keating, the meeting went as we expected. The
Burmese delegation, which did not include anyone with
decision-making authority, was pleasant and cordial, but made
no firm commitment to accept U.S. assistance beyond relief
supplies flown into Rangoon. There was very little
substantive discussion of how the United States and Burma
could coordinate on continued relief efforts. If it was not
clear before, it is now: the Burmese Government, at this
time, welcomes the donation of commodities to assist with
cyclone relief and only that. Nevertheless, we do not

RANGOON 00000357 003.2 OF 003


believe the door to additional cooperation was totally closed
and will continue to work with the UN, USAID, and PACOM on
how we might be able to expand our cooperation to improve
delivery of desperately needed relief supplies to the two
million victims of Cyclone Nargis.

8. (SBU) This cable has been cleared by PACOM Admiral
Keating and USAID/OFDA DART Leader William Berger.
VILLAROSA

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