Cablegate: Report: Arf Mulls Vision Statement, Pushes Disaster Relief
OO RUEHDT RUEHPB
DE RUEHC #2442/01 2961517
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O P 221510Z OCT 08
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
INFO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 STATE 112442
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL ARF PTER NK BM IR ASEAN EAID MARR PK KNNP
SUBJECT: REPORT: ARF MULLS VISION STATEMENT, PUSHES DISASTER RELIEF
EXERCISE AT SINGAPORE ISG
1. (SBU) SUMMARY: At the October 8-10 ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF)
Inter-sessional Support Group (ISG), ARF members discussed the
foundational elements of an ARF Vision Statement to be drafted over
the next year. The United States and a few others consistently
encouraged ARF members to produce a bold, clear and strategic
statement focused on significantly strengthening ARF's mandate with a
particular focus on transnational security issues. The Philippines
and the United States comprehensively briefed ARF's 27 members on the
critical details of a May 4-8, 2009 ARF disaster relief exercise.
ISG Participants held a focused and organized discussion of critical
security issues facing the ARF region, including the Korean
Peninsula, Burma and Pakistan. Delegations also discussed a variety
of other institutional initiatives ongoing in ARF. END SUMMARY
DELIBERATIONS OF VISION STATEMENT SUBDUED
2. (SBU) Singapore and Thailand chaired a session to discuss the
foundational elements of an ARF Vision Statement to be drafted over
the next year. A number of delegations focused more at this early
stage of discussion on the process of drafting a statement rather
than the substance that would form such a statement. Thailand will
distribute an initial "list of elements" in November and then an
initial draft statement in February 2009. Along with a few other
like-minded countries, USDEL consistently stressed the importance
that ARF agree to produce a bold, clear and strategic statement
focused on significantly strengthening ARF's mandate with a
particular focus on transnational security issues.
ARF BRIEFED ON DISASTER RELIEF EXERCISE
3. (U) For the first time, ARF's 27 members were comprehensively
briefed by the Philippines and the United States on the operational
details of the May 4-8, 2009 ARF disaster relief exercise (termed
Voluntary Demonstration of Response, or VDR) in Luzon, the
Philippines. The Philippines briefed ARF on the scenario, planning
assumptions, planning conference dates, invitation process and rules
of participation. The United States, as co-chair, and the
Philippines approached a number of key ARF members to urge their
strong participation in the exercise, and encouraged them to begin
identifying appropriate representatives to participate in upcoming
VDR planning meetings. These consultations will continue in the
coming months as this exercise will occur under an ambitious timeline
from October 2008 to May 2009. This multilateral field exercise with
ARF members will seek to provide a major deliverable for ARF,
highlight major power military cooperation in Southeast Asia, build
civil-military assistance capacity for future multinational relief
operations and seek to assist local populations in the Philippines.
More information on the exercise for posts' use and background will
4. (U) ARF members were also updated on Australia's latest version of
the ARF Strategic Guidance for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster
Relief and Indonesia's briefing on the ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance
(AHA) Center. In addition, Indonesia chaired a separate group,
titled Shepherds on Disaster Relief, focused on coordinating ARF's
growing efforts in regional disaster preparedness.
KOREA, BURMA AND OTHER SECURITY ISSUES DISCUSSED
-- (U) Singapore Deputy Permanent Secretary Peter Ho chaired a
focused and organized discussion of critical security issues facing
the ARF region. This portion of the discussion was dominated by
ARF's non-ASEAN members, with only a few ASEAN countries making
limited interventions on these issues. Notes on the interventions of
selected delegations are below in para 8.
5. (U) KOREAN PENNINSULA: In part due to the absence of the DPRK,
most delegations focused on recent, worrisome steps taken by the DPRK
in reversing its disablement steps at Yongbyon. All stressed that
the peaceful resolution of the DPRK nuclear issue was vital to
regional security. They urged that the Six-Party Talks move forward
through resumption and completion of the disablement process in
cooperation with the IAEA inspection arrangements and early
establishment of an effective verification mechanism. This includes
fulfillment of all obligations under the agreements reached in the
Six-Party Talks. Japan and Australia spoke to their concerns over
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the abductions issue. ROK briefly touched on inter-Korean relations.
6. (U) BURMA: Following a lengthy presentation by Burma on its
political and humanitarian situation, delegations focused on the need
for genuine political dialogue within Burma. Some praised the recent
release of Burmese political prisoners while others stressed the
importance of legitimately free and fair 2010 elections. Many
Western, like-minded countries continued to press Burma for greater
cooperation with UN Special Envoy Gambari and the international
community. ASEAN was commended for its leadership role in Cyclone
Nargis relief while no delegations complained of the lack of access
during the early phases of relief efforts.
7. (U) IRAN, AFGHANISTAN, PAKISTAN, CLIMATE CHANGE, SINO-JAPANESE
RELATIONS: With the support of other delegations, the United States
expressed serious concern about Iran's continued rejection of
repeated P5 plus 1 offers. Some delegations pressed the need for
greater reconstruction assistance and stability in Afghanistan.
Pakistan spoke to the recent, unfortunate terrorist attacks in
Islamabad while also defending its efforts in the FATA region and
border relationship with Afghanistan. Canada and India both urged
more cooperative relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan. A few
countries spoke to the security implications of climate change. A
number of delegations also noted the unique role ARF can play in
transnational and non-traditional security issues, including
8. (U) NOTES ON THE INTERVENTIONS OF SELECTED DELEGATIONS:
--Remains concerned about DPRK suspension of disablement and IAEA and
noted the need for progress on the abductions issue.
--Noted the need for additional releases of political prisoners.
--Appreciated ASEAN's role in facilitating access by the humanitarian
community during Nargis.
--Appreciated Pakistan's remarks about the need for greater attention
its border region and Afghanistan.
--Pleased by recent terrorist successes in Southeast Asia, but
disappointed by the breakdown of peace talks in Philippines.
--Briefed ARF on its proposal for an International Commission on
Nonproliferation and Disarmament.
--Noted that each country has "special and unique" conditions that
differentiate it from others and the Burma's own political issues are
complex and unique.
--Defended the legitimacy of its March 2007 referendum as in line
with Roadmap and cited the 92.48% approval rating from its people for
the new constitution.
--Said that all "legitimate persons" will participate in the Roadmap
--Praised the access given by the regime to recent UN visitors.
--Appreciated the assistance from the international community in
Nargis relief efforts.
--Concluded by saying that "problems disappear when we talk to each
other not about each other."
--Mentioned it had approached ASEAN members on ways forward with
--Remains concerned 2010 elections will not be free and fair.
--Please that some prisoners were released, but more should be
released included Aung San Suu Kyi.
--Remains committed to continue its help to Pakistan with its border
--Noted the need for Pakistan to develop a cooperative and
constructive relationship with Afghanistan.
--Pressed for DPRK agreement on a verification mechanism.
--Hoped that the international community would continue to provide
humanitarian assistance to Burma.
--Said the political conditions in Burma require patience and
continued support for the UN and Gambari.
--Said that Sino-Japanese relations remain positive and are "standing
at a historical point."
--Noted that, as Chair, the Six Party process has experienced
difficulties and urged all parties to show flexibility.
--Joined the United States in commending ASEAN's role in Nargis
--Burma/Myanmar issue is high on the EU prioritylist and the EU will
maintain its two-track approach of sanctions and positive engagement.
--Said that only genuine dialogue could lead to democratization and
Burma should release more political prisoners.
--Welcomed the Group of Friends meeting at the UN.
--Hoped for more support for the EU Special Envoy Fassino and noted
he will visit a number of ARF capitals.
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--Said that "the Burmese people must know that the EU is on their
--Noted the EU's recent deployment of a police mission to Afghanistan.
--Stressed EU view that widespread agreement exists on the security
threats from climate change.
--Noted ongoing, internal EU discussions on a proposal for greater
food and development assistance to Asia.
--Expressed concern about the DPRK's removal of seals and
surveillance equipment and remains worried about dire humanitarian
--EU noted their readiness to contribute to easing humanitarian
problems in North Korea and is ready to consider "stepping up" its
engagement and humanitarian assistance with DPRK if positive steps
are taken in the Six Party Talks.
--Noted the security situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating.
--Noted the need for full implementation of the UN CT Convention.
--Hoped for progress from A/S Hill's trip to Pyongyang.
--Regretted postponement of bilateral 6pt consultations due to DPRK
position on abduction issues.
--Said there will be no negative changes in China-Japan relations
--Pressed for positive steps by the international community while
Myanmar takes its own steps; pleased by recent release of prisoners,
but more is needed; noted the need for continued support for Gambari.
--Remains committed to Afghan reconstruction with a $550m pledge.
--Remains "seriously concerned" about the Iran nuclear issue.
--Hopes to make use of bilateral channel with Iran.
--Briefed ARF on Japan's Self-Defense Forces (SDF) involvement in
support operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
--Welcomed concrete progress on implementation of decisions reached
--Called on "concerned party" to move forward to denuclearize
Penninsula and congratulated China on its role in the Six Party
--Noted its support for a Northeast Asian multilateral security
--Remains concerned about political developments in Fiji and pointed
to the need for int'l pressure and a return to rule of law.
--Noted the PIF communiqu and roadmap for Fijian democracy and is
concerned by the lack of progress toward elections.
--Said it is working on its border issues with Afghanistan and is
stabilizing the FATA region through assistance, passport and border
controls (biometrics, monitoring, vehicles, etc.) in border area.
--Noted the tragedy from the September 30 terrorist attacks in
--Said that terrorists are trying to target the political leadership
to destabilize Pakistan adding that this trend is a reaction to the
pressure from Pakistani security services in the border region.
--Noted Pakistan's major sacrifices in border region and the death of
1,200 of its soldiers.
--Said that a comprehensive CT strategy is needed that goes beyond a
--Explained that tribal FATA leaders are recognizing the destruction
from Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants. "They have decided to go after
the terrorists and drive them out...and they have developed ownership
of the problem."
--Said greater cooperation is needed between ISAF, Pakistan, and
--Urged that more cooperation is needed from the Afghan side due its
long, porous border.
--Noted the need to prevent the DPRK's reversal of disablement steps
taken at Yongbyon and hoped A/S Hill's visit to Pyongyang would
ensure that verification steps are taken and welcomed Hill's active
consultations with other Six Parties.
--Said inter-Korean relations in "deadlock" due to DPRK refusal of
dialogue. Added that the ROK is striving to achieve a more balanced
and normalized relationship with DPRK.
--Noted that the DPRK has yet to respond to ROK's fifty tons of corn
food aid. ROK may consider a World Food Program role for its
--Said the ROK is pursuing low-carbon growth and other initiatives in
response to climate change, including a proposal for an East Asia
Climate Change Partnership (US$200m over 5 years to help developing
countries counter the effects of climate change).
--Stressed that the international climate change discussions should
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produce an ambitious climate change regime by 2009.
--Said we remain committed to the Six Party Talks Joint Statement,
recent DPRK steps to reverse disablement steps run counter to Six
Party expectations, U.S. continues to seek agreement on verification
protocol on an "action for action" basis.
--A/S Hill's recent visit to Pyongyang discussed verification
measures, is continuing consultations with other Six Party members,
and the United States remains committed to the Six Party process.
--Commended ASEAN unity and leadership in Nargis relief and
encouraged ASEAN to build upon its successes to address the root
causes of Burma's problems.
--Burma's Roadmap is discredited as a constitutional referendum and
will not solve Burma's problems.
--Noted that we remain interested in seeing Burma become a prosperous
nation with democracy, economy, and rule of law that Burmese people
--Said we recognize ASEAN's challenges with Burma and called for
--Stressed that Iran's repeated rejection of the P5 plus 1's offers
remains a serious concern for the region and the international
--Congratulated ASEAN on its positive steps to ratify its Charter.
--Noted the particular role for ARF in transnational security
REMAINING INSTITUTIONAL MATTERS AND INITIATIVES
9. (U) Throughout the ISG, the following issues were also discussed:
--COUNTER TERRORISM AND TRANSNATIONAL CRIME (CTTC) WORKPLAN: USDEL
updated ARF on the latest draft of the CTTC Workplan meant to
organize and manage ARF's efforts in cybersecurity, bioterrorism and
illicit drugs. ARF countries have been asked to contribute project
ideas to the workplan for implementation in the coming months and
years. However, few delegations have yet engaged in the modalities
of the workplan and submitting project ideas. Reflecting this
dynamic, the United States (as the drafter of the CTTC Workplan) will
soon distribute a revised draft.
--DEFENSE OFFICIALS DIALOGUE: ARF defense officials met on October 8.
They discussed the transnational threat of terrorism and reiterated
the importance of increased cooperation in peacekeeping. ARF Members
shared views on current challenges being faced by ARF defense
establishments and discussed how they can add further value to the
ARF process. The USG was represented by Capt. David Chase of the
Joint Staff, Southeast Asia Desk.
--ARF WORKING METHODS: The ASEAN Secretariat's ARF Unit distributed a
paper for comment about improving ARF's institutional procedures in a
number of areas including decision-making, consolidating ARF's
meetings, press relations,
--AUSTRALIA BRIEFING ON NONPROLIFERATION COMMISION: Australia briefed
ARF on its proposal for an International Commission on
Nonproliferation and Disarmament.
--VIRTUAL MEETING OF CYBERSECURITY EXPERTS: ROK updated ARF on the
latest draft and modalities for its virtual meeting of cybersecurity
--TRACK TWO BRIEFING: The Council for Security Cooperation in the
Asia-Pacific (CSCAP) and other non-governmental representatives
briefed ARF on their latest security cooperation efforts and offer of
assistance to ARF for their services.
10. UPCOMING ARF ACTIVITIES:
--12th ARF Heads of Defense Universities Meeting (HDUCIM), Islamabad,
21-23 October 2008 [Pakistan]
--3rd ARF EEPs Meeting, Beijing, 13-15 November 2008 [co-chairs:
--ARF Conference on Terrorism and the Internet, Bali, Indonesia, 6-8
November 2008 [co-chairs: Australia, Indonesia]
--Follow-up event to the Chennai Maritime Security Training
Programme, India, 17-22 November 2008 [India]
--8th ARF Inter-Sessional Meeting (ISM) on Disaster Relief, Banda
Aceh, Indonesia, tentatively 5-6 December 2008 [co-chairs: Indonesia,
--ARF Workshop on Anti-Money Laundering, Kuala Lumpur, 2008
[co-chairs: Malaysia, tbc]
--Inaugural ARF Inter-Sessional Meeting (ISM) on Maritime Security,
in Surabaya/Medan, Indonesia, 12-13 February 2009 [co-chairs:
Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand]
--ARF Seminar on Measures to enhance Maritime Security, TBA, first
half of 2009 [co-chairs: EU, Indonesia]
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--1st Inter-Sessional Meeting (ISM) on Non-Proliferation and
Disarmament, TBA, first half of 2009 [co-chairs: US, China,
--7th ARF ISM on Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime, Vietnam,
first half of 2009 [co-chairs: Bangladesh, ROK, Vietnam]
--ARF Inter-Sessional Support Group Meeting on Confidence Building
Measures and Preventive Diplomacy (ISG on CBMs and PD), ROK, April
2009 [co-chairs: ROK, Singapore]
--Peacekeeping Course for ARF Member Countries, New Delhi, 18-22 May
2009 [co-chairs: India, tbc]
--ARF Seminar on Laws and Regulations on Disaster Relief Cooperation,
Beijing, May 2009 [co-chairs: China, tbc]
--ARF Voluntary Demonstration of Response on Disaster Relief, the
Philippines, May 4-8, 2009 with Jan 19-23 and March 9-13 planning
events [co-chairs: US, Philippines]
--ARF Senior Officials' Meeting (SOM), Thailand, May 2009 [Thailand]
--16th ASEAN Regional Forum Ministerial, Thailand, July 2009
--ARF Seminar on the Law of the Sea Convention, the Philippines, TBA
[co-chairs: Philippines, EU]
--3rd ARF Peacekeeping Experts' Meeting, TBA [co-chairs: Japan, tbc]
--ARF Seminar on International Security Implications of
Climate-related events and trends, TBA, first part of 2009
[co-chairs: EU, Cambodia]
--ARF Workshop on Laboratory Bio-Safety and Bio-Security, TBA, first
half 2009 [co-chairs: US, tbc]
11. (U) POC: The POC for any questions or follow-up is EAP/RSP Kevin
Sheives (firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-647-1217). This report and other
background information on ARF and U.S. participation in ARF can be
found at: http://eap.state.gov/EAPOffices/RSP/ARF.cfm
12. (SBU) COMMENT: For the U.S., the two most important initiatives
in the coming year are producing a bold and clear Vision Statement
and a successful ARF Disaster Relief Exercise. Many ARF members,
especially typically hesitant members, seem unprepared to fully
engage on the development of the ARF Vision Statement, a crucial
exercise for the future of ARF in today's rapidly evolving regional
architecture. ARF members were largely interested in the ARF
Disaster Relief Exercise and were pleased to receive exercise
details. Targeted engagement with key ARF members over the coming
months on both of these initiatives will remain critical for both
U.S. efforts in ARF and the future of ARF itself.