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Cablegate: Burmese Foreign Minister On Gob Counternarcoticss

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS RANGOON 001664

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR INL AND EAP
BANGKOK FOR NAS, DEA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV SNAR BM
SUBJECT: BURMESE FOREIGN MINISTER ON GOB COUNTERNARCOTICSS
EFFORTS


1. (SBU) Summary: Taking the opportunity of remarks before
the assembled Rangoon diplomatic corps on New Year's Eve, the
Burmese Foreign Minister digressed for ten minutes from his
set speech to make very reasoned comments on the GOB's
desire to prove the credibility of its efforts against
narcotrafficking. Although he is not seen as a heavyweight
in terms of power, he is known as being close to Senior
General Than Shwe, reportedly because he never brings
unpleasant news to the Senior General and always "follows
instructions". Therefore, the FonMin's message about the
GOB's committment to counternarcotics efforts can be judged
as having come from the top and is a surprising change from
the GOB's usual tactic of "deny, deny, counter-accuse". End
Summary.

2. (U) Taking the opportunity of a remarks before the
assembled Rangoon diplomatic corps at noon on New Year's Eve,
the Burmese Foreign Minister digressed for ten minutes from
his set speech to comment on the GOB's desire to prove the
credibility of its efforts against narcotrafficking.
Although some of the FonMin's stated goals may be
unattainable ( i.e. reducing opium production in 2003 to 80
per cent of the 2002 production), he sent a strong message
that he would do everything in his power as Vice Chairman of
the CCDAC (Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control) to
maintain momentum in the GOB's counternarcotics program.

3. (U) He also called for regional assistance and cooperation
with China, Thailand, Lao, Cambodia and India in combating
ATS production, particularly with regards to controlling the
flow of precursor chemicals. The FonMin steered clear of the
usual GOB tactic of claiming that Burma was the subject of a
conspiracy or a smear campaign in regard to its
counternarcotics efforts, saying instead that he was
"ashamed" to see his country named in the international press
as a major source of drugs.

4. (U) The FonMin also called the situation of the farmers
who are participating in opium substitution projects
"tragic". He said that the GOB knew it was the farmers that
suffered the most and assured the audience that the GOB was
sending additional food assistance to them to keep them from
going back into opium production. He said that the GOB was
not asking for foreign assistance, but that direct foreign
assistance to the farmers would be welcome. He also
mentioned the GOB's agreement with the Wa in which the Wa
pledged to be out of opium production by 2005, saying
"pledges were no longer enough", there had to be action and
concrete proof that they were getting out of narcotrafficking

5. (U) At the luncheon after the speech, the FonMin continued
to talk about how intent the GOB and he, personally, was, to
rid the country of opium production and of the importance of
aiding farmers in crop substitution projects. He asked the
COM if the USG would provide assistance with crop yield
surveys and satellite imaging to assist in eradication
efforts (hopefully an indication that the next CNC survey
will not be thrown off track by the probable of
non-certification of Burma's counternarcotics efforts).

6. (SBU) Comment: The FonMin has a reputation for being
non-controversial and it was highly uncharacteristic of him
to digress from the standard "roads, bridges and visits"
speech to speak extemporaneously about the GOB's narcotics
problem. Although he is not seen as a heavyweight in terms
of power, he is known as being close to Than Shwe, reportedly
because he never brings unpleasant news to the Senior General
and always "follows instructions". Therefore, the FonMin's
message about the GOB's commitment to counternarcotics
efforts can be judged as having come from the top and is a
surprising change from the GOB's usual tactic of "deny, deny,
counter-accuse". End Comment.
Martinez

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