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Cablegate: Thailand Commits to Participate in Asia Pacific

VZCZCXRO6750
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHBK #3099/01 2900311
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 160311Z OCT 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4701
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 6415
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 9101
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA 7597
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 4965
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 1106
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 2472

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 003099

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KDEM PGOV PHUM PREL TH
SUBJECT: THAILAND COMMITS TO PARTICIPATE IN ASIA PACIFIC
DEMOCRACY PARTNERSHIP (APDP) SENIOR OFFICIALS MEETING

REF: A. BANGKOK 03058
B. STATE 107528

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. PLEASE HANDLE ACCORDINGLY.

1. (SBU) Summary: On October 13 DRL Senior Advisor
Christopher N. Camponovo and poloff met with Thai MFA
International Organizations Deputy Director-General Ittiporn
Boonpracong and Social Division Director Nadhavathna
Krishnamra to discuss Thai participation in the Asia-Pacific
Democracy Partnership (APDP). Ittiporn informed us that the
RTG will participate in the upcoming Senior Officials Meeting
(SOM) in Seoul, but indicated that the level of their
representation remains under consideration. The RTG prefers
the group remain informal in nature so that members can
participate in accordance with individual comfort levels,
particularly as regards to inclusion of civil society
components from member states. The RTG point of contact will
continue to be the MFA Department of International
Organizations. Camponovo also met with ANFREL, a Thai
election monitoring NGO, to discuss its participation in APDP
activities.

2. (SBU) Comment: Ittiporn's comments may reflect, at least
in part, the RTG's discomfort with engaging other countries
on the question of democracy given the current internal
strife in Thailand. The RTG appears likely to want to
maintain control over how and what components of Thai civil
society participate. End Comment.

COMMITTED TO MOVING FORWARD, BUT CONCERNED ABOUT THE STRUCTURE
--------------------------------------------- -----------------

3. (SBU) After Camponovo briefly reviewed the history of the
APDP initiative and thanked the RTG for their previous
participation, Ittiporn reported that the MFA had received a
copy of the APDP Chairman's Summary and noted that the RTG
DCM in Beijing had provided a positive evaluation of the June
2008 APDP Mongolian election observation mission. Ittiporn
stated that the RTG will continue to participate in the APDP
and believes that the partnership has the potential to
strengthen democracy in the region. Nonetheless, the RTG
level of participation is still under consideration.
Camponovo thanked Ittiporn for this decision, emphasizing
that nearly all other participants, including the
recently-committed Indonesians, will be sending
representatives at the Deputy DG level or higher. Camponovo
urged the MFA to resolve this question and inform ROK APDP
interlocutors of their decision as soon as possible.

4. (SBU) Camponovo further stressed that all participating
nations are still observers in the APDP process and that
participation in the APDP SOM does not imply formal
membership. Ittiporn responded that the RTG would like to
see the process evolve and highlighted the current informal
and flexible character of the APDP. Ittiporn repeatedly
cautioned us that Thailand preferred a gradual and pragmatic
approach to allow for individual member countries to grow
comfortable with the process. Camponovo replied that comfort
among participant states can best be built via
non-controversial, practical activities that show results on
the ground--activities such as election observation. Ittiporn
responded positively to this comment and noted that technical
cooperation and assistance foster capacity-building and allow
for the development of shared values.

5. (SBU) Ittiporn raised the question of the role of civil
society groups in the APDP. He argued that the APDP process
must show respect for participant nations' levels of comfort
regarding the inclusion of NGOs and other societal groups.
Ittiporn returned to this issue multiple times, emphasizing
that the governments involved must be allowed to make
decisions with which they are comfortable; the RTG thus
prefered that the APDP framework remain informal at this time.

6. (SBU) Ittiporn further noted that, as expressed in the
Chairman's Statement, it was important that duplication of
efforts be avoided. Camponovo agreed and pointed out that
Indonesia's participation in the SOM will ensure there is no
overlap with the work of the Bali Democracy Forum, the other
major democracy initiative in the region. The meeting ended
cordially with Camponovo expressing our gratitude for the
RTG's agreement to participate in the SOM and welcoming of
future RTG proposals regarding the way forward.

BANGKOK 00003099 002 OF 002

ANFREL - THAI NGO PERSPECTIVE
-----------------------------

7. (SBU) Camponovo and poloff also met with Somsri
Hananuntasuk and Sakool Zuesongdham, executive director and
board member of the Asian Network for Free Elections
(ANFREL), an NGO that sponsors election-monitoring missions
in the region, to discuss their activities in the context of
the APDP. The ANFREL representatives were pleased to share
reports on their recent election observation missions and
their work with partner organizations. Somsri and Sakool
provided an overview of their upcoming plans and the network
of international NGOs that deal with elections in the region.
The ANFREL representatives responded well to Camponovo's
overview of the APDP agenda and indicated their interest in
participating in future election missions and other efforts
to build and foster democracy in the Asia-Pacific region.
ENTWISTLE

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