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Cablegate: Lao Government Allows Blanket Overflight Clearances For

VZCZCXRO9440
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHVN #0291 1420923
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 210923Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY VIENTIANE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2021
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI// J34//
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/CDR JPAC HICKAM AFB HI
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEAHQA/HQ USAF WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RUEHBK/USDAO BANGKOK TH
RUEHBK/CHJUSMAGTHAI BANGKOK TH

UNCLAS VIENTIANE 000291

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/MLS (BESTIC)
DOD FOR OSD-POLICY (STERN)
PACOM FOR J52 (LACY)
PACOM FOR POLAD
JPAC FOR MUNIPALLI
PHNOM PENH ALSO FOR DATT (NORTON)
HANOI ALSO FOR DATT
RANGOON ALSO FOR DATT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: MARR PREL EAID PGOV LA US BM
SUBJECT: LAO GOVERNMENT ALLOWS BLANKET OVERFLIGHT CLEARANCES FOR
BURMA RELIEF FLIGHTS

1. (SBU) Summary: Reversing a 33-year-old policy, Lao officials
notified the Embassy on May 19 that they would grant blanket
overflight clearances for U.S. planes providing humanitarian support
for Burma. This is another in a series of positive developments in
U.S.-Lao military-to-military ties. End summary.

2. (SBU) On May 19, the DCM and the casualty resolution specialist
at Detachment 3 of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC),
which serves as the mission's liaison with the Government of Laos
(GOL) on overflight clearances, called on Ministry of Foreign
Affairs Americas Division Director Thieng Boupha to request that the
GOL grant blanket overflight clearance to U.S. planes on relief
missions to Burma. This followed a request to the Embassy from
Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu. Mr. Thieng's immediate response
was negative. He said that, as has been the policy in the past,
including during relief efforts in Bangladesh in late 2007, the GOL
would expedite individual clearances but would not issue a blanket
clearance. The DCM requested that he convey the request in any
case. Shortly after the meeting, Mr. Thieng called the Embassy and
asked for a written request, which the Embassy conveyed via
diplomatic note. On May 19, JPAC received blanket overflight
clearance for C-17s and C-130s traveling to Burma on humanitarian
support missions between May 19 and May 31.

3. (SBU) Comment: This unexpected decision is the latest in a
series of positive developments in U.S.-Lao military-to-military
relations in the past year. Since the Lao government proposed an
exchange of defense attaches in June 2008, reversing longstanding
opposition, cooperation has moved forward quickly. Other
breakthroughs have included the GOL's participation in PACOM's
Chiefs of Defense Conference, two subject matter expert exchanges on
avian influenza, and cooperation on English language training for
Lao military officers. End comment.

HUSO

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