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Cablegate: Thailand Country Clearance Request For: Victor

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 001601

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OTRA TH
SUBJECT: THAILAND COUNTRY CLEARANCE REQUEST FOR: VICTOR
G. RAPHAEL, INR/EAP SOUTHEAST ASIA DIVISION CHIEF

REF: A. STATE 037171

B. PREVIOUS INFORMAL E-MAILS SAME SUBJECT
C. 04 HANOI 2706

1. (U) Post welcomes and grants country clearance to Victor
G. Raphael from March 12 - 15, 2005.

2. (U) Reservations have not been made per reftels.

3. (U) Due to limited resources and easy availability of
airport transportation, post policy does not allow for
airport meet and assist. Thai Airways Limousine Service and
American Express Airport Taxi are recommended for persons
unfamiliar with Bangkok. These services are located inside
the arrival hall, which you enter after clearing customs. The
cost of a one-way trip varies form 700 to 1,500 Baht,
depending on the type of vehicle, figure in another 70 Baht
for expressway tolls. Regular taxis are also available and
cost approximately 225 Baht, not including tolls, and a taxi
airport surcharge of 50 Baht. Currently, the Thai Baht is
approximately 40/dollar.

3. (U) Embassy point of contact is: James Cole. Work
phone: (66-2) 205-4816, Home: (66-2) 287-4652, cell phone:
(66-1) 868-0498. After-hours emergency number for the
embassy is (66-2) 205-4108.

5. (U) Although visas are not required of holders of U.S.
tourist passports who plan to stay fewer than 30 days,
holders of diplomatic or official passports MUST OBTAIN visas
prior to arrival. If a traveler is not a U.S. passport
holder; please call your local Thai Embassy for visa
information.

6. (U) Thailand has an airport departure tax of 500 Baht
that must be paid in local currency upon departure.

7. (SBU) SECURITY INFORMATION
-------------------------------

A. (U) MANDATORY PERSONAL SECURITY TRAINING:
---------------------------------------------

- (U) 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. (U) CRIME:
--------------

- (U) 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.

- (U) 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.

- (U) 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
frequent 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. (U) TRAFFIC:
----------------
- (U) 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. (SBU) TERRORISM:
--------------------

- (SBU) The threat from transnational terrorist groups to
the U.S. Mission in Bangkok is currently ranked high. 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.

- (SBU) 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.

- (U) 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. (U) OTHER SECURITY TIPS:
----------------------------

- (U) 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.

- (U) 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.

- (U) Visitors should also be aware of 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.

- (U) 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 U.S. Embassy Bangkok,
we hope you have a safe and pleasant visit.
BOYCE

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