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Cablegate: Thailand Country Clearance for Staffdel Lee

VZCZCXYZ0014
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBK #3439/01 3260708
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 210708Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5140
INFO RUEHGO/AMEMBASSY RANGOON PRIORITY 5396

UNCLAS BANGKOK 003439

CODEL
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR H

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OREP AMGT TH
SUBJECT: THAILAND COUNTRY CLEARANCE FOR STAFFDEL LEE

REF: SECSTATE 121764 (STAFFDEL MIXTER)

1. Post warmly welcomes and grants country clearance to
Jessica Lee, Professional Staffer of the House Committee on
Foreign Affairs, on official business to assess the situation
at the Thai-Burma border from December 7-14, 2008.

2. The Embassy understands that Ms. Lee is relying on the
"U.S. Campaign for Burma" NGO for trip arrangements. The
Embassy has confirmed that the NGO had not made hotel
reservations as of November 20. The Embassy is willing to
assist in this matter, if Ms. Lee so desires. Our
understanding is that Ms. Lee hopes to stay at the following
hotels:

-- Bangkok Christian Guest House, 123 Saladaeng Soi 2, TH,
10500.
Tel: (66-2) 233-6303
Fax: (66-2) 237-1742

Per diem in Bangkok is $146 for lodging and $72 for M&IE.

--Centara Mae Sot Hills Resort, 100 Asia Road, Mae Sot, Tak,
TH, 63110.
Tel: (66-5) 553-2601-8
Fax: (66-5) 553-2600

Per diem for Mae Sot is $76 for lodging and $30 for M&IE.

3. The Embassy understands that Ms. Lee does not need to be
met on arrival at the airport. Thai Airways Limousine
Service and American Express Airport Taxi are recommended for
persons unfamiliar with Bangkok; these services are located
on the 2nd floor of Suvarnabhumi Airport
(http://www.bangkokairportonline.com) for arriving
passengers. The new airport has limited taxi facilities in
the main terminal. If no taxis are available at the
terminal, arriving passengers will have to board an airport
shuttle bus from the main terminal to a nearby taxi and bus
terminal. The cost of a one-way trip varies from 700 to 1500
Baht, depending on the type of vehicle, with an additional 64
Baht for highway tolls. Regular taxis are also available and
cost approximately 225 Baht, not including tolls, and an
airport surcharge of 50 baht. Currently, the Thai Baht is
approximately 34.5/dollar.

4. Embassy point of contact is:

Name: Melissa Carlson, Political Officer
Work phone: (66-2) 205-4314
Cell phone: (66-8) 1935-6043
Unclass E-mail Address: carlsonmg@state.gov

After-hours emergency number for the Embassy is (66-2)
205-4108.

5. Although visas are not required of holders of U.S.
passports (whether diplomatic, official or tourist) who plan
to stay fewer than 30 days, post nonetheless recommends that
TDY travelers obtain an official visa before coming to
Thailand. It is extremely difficult to extend the 30-day
entry permit granted without a visa at the airport, and fines
for overstays are costly.

6. SECURITY INFORMATION

-----------------------------------------
A. MANDATORY PERSONAL SECURITY TRAINING:
-----------------------------------------

-- All U.S. citizen personnel serving under Chief of Mission
authority in a temporary duty status of 30 days or more must
complete appropriate overseas personal security training
prior to travel (04 State 66580). Employees who have
completed the Security Overseas Seminar course at State,s
Foreign Service Institute (FSI) after June 1, 2000 meet this
requirement. All other TDYers must either, 1) complete the
approved four-day seminar at FSI entitled "Serving Abroad for
Families & Employees (SAFE)" or 2) have their agency certify
to the State Department Bureau of Diplomatic Security that
the employee has undergone equivalent security training. The
contact for this certification is Assistant Director of
Training, DS/T, at telephone (703) 205-2617. Country
clearance will not be granted for any traveler with planned
TDY in excess of 30 days if this information is not
stated/certified. POC for additional information is
DS RSOBangkok@state.gov.

-----------
B. CRIME:
-----------

-- Crime is generally non-confrontational in nature.
Criminal acts are usually crimes of opportunity such as
purse-snatchings, thefts of unattended property, and pick
pocketing. Visitors should be especially alert in crowded
buses, streets, and markets or while on "tuk-tuks." Visitors
should lock valuables in hotel safe deposit boxes not in
their hotel rooms.

-- Be aware of common scams and frauds (including credit
cards, in particular). Visitors should only use credit cards
at well-established and reputable businesses. Visitors
should be careful when purchasing branded or copyrighted
goods. There are many pirated counterfeit products in the
marketplace; their purchase is against post regulations and
it is illegal to import these products into the U.S. Be wary
of common scams for jewelry, suits, silks, gems, or
antiquities. There are no Thai government-owned or sponsored
gem stores. If victimized, seek assistance from Tourist
Police by dialing 1155.

-- Visitors are cautioned from visiting bars involved in the
sex trade. Many of these operate illegally and clients can
be subject to RTG law; they often charge exorbitant drink
prices and cover charges. There are also many incidents of
crime against patrons in these establishments. Drugging and
robbing of unwary individuals is not uncommon. There are
sporadic reports of victims being drugged and robbed or
beaten when visiting these bars. The drugs used can cause
serious temporary memory impairment, unconsciousness, and if
overdosed, death.

-------------
C. TRAFFIC:
-------------

-- The traffic situation in Bangkok can be difficult and
dangerous for both pedestrians and vehicle occupants. All
visitors should be alert to traffic patterns and unexpected
motorcycle drivers. Traffic drives on the left-hand side,
opposite from the U.S., although there may be a bus lane that
flows in the opposite direction. Pedestrians should use the
overhead walkways for crossing busy streets.

--------------
D. TERRORISM:
--------------

-- The threat from transnational terrorist groups to the
U.S. Mission in Bangkok is currently ranked medium. Despite
stepped up RTG efforts to monitor its borders, they remain
relatively porous and allow easy illegal access.
Transnational terrorist groups, including Al-Qa'ida and
Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), have utilized Thailand as a transit
point.

-- The threat from indigenous terrorist groups is currently
rated as low. There is no evidence to indicate that
indigenous terrorist groups are planning acts against U.S.
personnel or facilities. The far south of Thailand has
experienced incidents of criminally and politically motivated
violence, including incidents attributed to armed local
Muslim separatist groups. Although Americans have not been
specifically targeted in the past, the indiscriminate nature
of past attacks by these groups -- including bombings of
public places -- indicates a potential threat to American
citizens.


-- The State Department is concerned that there is an
increased risk of terrorism in Southeast Asia, including
Thailand. Travelers to Thailand should therefore exercise
caution, especially in locations where Westerners congregate,
such as clubs, discos, bars, restaurants, hotels, tourist
areas, and other places frequented by foreigners.

------------------------
E. OTHER SECURITY TIPS:
------------------------

-- Visitors should avoid making any pejorative comments
about any members of the Thai Royal Family or engaging in
disrespectful conduct within temples or toward religious
objects. Such behavior can result in arrest and/or expulsion
from Thailand.

-- Precautions should also be taken not to discuss sensitive
or classified matters outside secure environments or over
unsecured and/or cellular telephones, and to securely
safeguard classified or sensitive materials at the Chancery
and not at hotels or residences.

-- Visitors should also review the State Department,s
Consular Information Sheet for Thailand and the most recent
Worldwide Caution Public Announcements, which are available
via the Internet at http://travel.state.gov. DOD personnel
must review the PACOM Force Protection Levels for Thailand
found at http://131.84.1.218/staff/at/athome.shtml.

-- In essence, visitors to Bangkok must exercise appropriate
caution and be alert to their surroundings with regard to
their personal security. Suspicious incidents/activities
should be reported to RSO Bangkok (tel. 02-205-4000, 24
hrs/day). On behalf of US Embassy Bangkok, we hope you have
a safe and pleasant visit.
JOHN

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