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Cablegate: Demarche to Laos: Shaping Post-Cyclone Assistance

VZCZCXRO0762
PP RUEHDT RUEHPB
DE RUEHVN #0385 1890911
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 070911Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY VIENTIANE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2096
INFO RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS VIENTIANE 000385

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS (COPE)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: BM EAID LA PREL
SUBJECT: DEMARCHE TO LAOS: SHAPING POST-CYCLONE ASSISTANCE
IN BURMA

REF: STATE 68527

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The DCM delivered reftel demarche on July
2. In response, an official at the foreign ministry's
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Department
noted that many of the principles set forth in the demarche
were consistent with the conclusions of the UN-ASEAN-Burmese
Tripartite Core Group. He refrained from any comments on
political issues in Burma, noting that such issues are
discussed regularly by ASEAN at the Foreign Minister level.
END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) The DCM delivered reftel demarche to Ministry of
Foreign Affairs Deputy Director General for ASEAN Songkane
Luangmuninthone on July 2. She underscored the importance of
international unity in positively influencing the Burmese
regime's handling of relief efforts and emphasized that
humanitarian assistance must not reinforce or perpetuate the
Burmese regime's human rights abuses and economic
mismanagement. The DCM provided an update on U.S.
humanitarian assistance to Burma.

3. (SBU) DDG Songkane agreed that UN/NGO coordination of the
relief efforts is important. He stressed, however, that the
assistance to Burma should be "a humanitarian, and not a
political issue." When the DCM pointed to the fact that many
underlying problems in Burma, including the regime's poor
response to the cyclone, are political, DDG Songkane said
that political issues in Burma are regularly discussed within
ASEAN at the Foreign Minister level. He noted that Laos had
sent the first medical team to the cyclone-affected areas in
May. At present, Laos is contributing relief supplies and
money to Burma in coordination with China. There are no Lao
relief workers in Burma at this time.

4. (SBU) DDG Songkane said that Phongsavanh Sisoulath, the
other DDG in the ASEAN department, had attended the
preliminary briefing by the Tripartite Core Group assessment
team. He noted that a number of principles set out in the
demarche, including the importance of community-based
recovery efforts and the need to ensure that assistance
reaches ethnic minorities and other vulnerable groups, were
shared by the Tripartite Core Group.
MCGEEHAN

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