Oct 082014

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
2005-03-02 06:06
2011-08-30 01:44
Embassy Rangoon

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



E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/27/2015

REF: A. 04 RANGOON 249
¶B. MANILA 655
¶C. 04 MANILA 5529
¶D. JAKARTA 2275

Classified By: COM Carmen Martinez for Reasons 1.4 (b,d)

¶1. (C) Summary: The Burmese regime’s new Prime Minister, Soe
Win, recently visited Manila and, as we’ve heard it, received
a friendly though fairly blunt message from President Arroyo:
the international community expects a timetable for the
regime’s road map; the process will not be accepted without
ASSK’s participation; and the Philippines has made progress
with the help of the UN, so the Burmese regime should follow
suit and let the UN Special Envoy do his job in Burma.
Assuming that the read-out we received was accurate, it
strikes us as quite helpful that President Arroyo delivered a
blunt political message to Soe Win. However, the PM has not
emerged as a key player within the regime and he is unlikely
to deliver the entire message to the top generals.
Furthermore, a collective, most certainly watered-down, ASEAN
message to the SPDC on these issues will be more palatable to
the generals. End Summary.

¶2. (U) Prime Minister Lt Gen Soe Win, leading his first state
visit, traveled to the Philippines February 20-21 where he
met with President Arroyo, other GRP officials, and leading
members of the Filipino Congress. PM Soe Win led a 27-member
delegation that included four senior GOB ministers and five
directors general. Official Burmese state media
characteristically portrayed the visit as a grand success,
emphasizing a “close and friendly relationship” that has
existed since the two countries established relations in 1956.

¶3. (C) The Philippines Ambassador to Burma, Phoebe Gomez, was
in Manila for the duration of the visit and participated in
all of Soe Win’s substantive meetings. Gomez told the COM on
February 28 that although the GOP accorded Soe Win head of
government honors, President Arroyo was “forthright” in their
bilateral meeting, telling the Burmese PM that “the world is
asking for a timetable (for the regime’s road map) and “the
international community wants full participation (in the
National Convention).”

¶4. (C) According to Gomez, President Arroyo also noted to Soe
Win that democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (ASSK) could not
be considered as capable of participating in the
constitutional drafting process while she remains under
detention, alluding to the notion that the SPDC’s road map
could not be viewed as inclusive. Arroyo offered the
Philippines experience as an example for the Burmese to
consider: the GRP, she said, has achieved a peace agreement
with the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front), but only did
so with the involvement of the UN and the support of the
international community. “It would be helpful,” Arroyo said,
“if you accept UN Special Envoy Razali.” (Note: The SPDC has
not permitted Razali to visit Burma since March 2004. End

¶5. (C) PM Soe Win, according to Amb. Gomez, told President
Arroyo that the regime’s road map was at a “delicate stage”
and the GOB’s top priority is to complete unification of
Burma’s 100-plus ethnic groups. “We have a tough task in
achieving a consensus at the ongoing National Convention,”
Soe Win said, “this is not easy to explain to the outside
world and that is why we can’t have a specific timetable.”
The PM offered a standard regime line that ASSK and the NLD
had “boycotted” the Convention and added that “if she (ASSK)
opposes our efforts, it will be difficult to achieve our
objective of national unity.”

¶6. (C) In a follow-on expanded meeting, President Arroyo told
PM Soe Win that she had an obligation to be responsive to her
parliament, NGOs, and other domestic pressure groups in
explaining the GRP’s role in ASEAN’s constructive engagement
policy toward Burma. She observed that a meaningful dialogue
between the SPDC and the democratic opposition should be part
of this policy. Soe Win claimed that there was momentum for
economic and political progress in Burma, but added that “we
will have to bear all pressures that may arise, because we
are committed first and foremost to achieving our own

¶7. (SBU) Amb. Gomez also told the COM that during the Soe Win
visit she, Gomez, had talked with Senator Santiago, Chair of
the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who had “just that
morning” tabled a resolution asking the GRP to oppose the
ASEAN chair moving to Burma in 2006 (ref B). Gomez said that
President Arroyo would probably “do what is proper” and
communicate to the SPDC at some point that “segments of
Filipino society” have concerns about this issue, but
observed that the Burmese would not be responsive. She added
that the GRP would not be very proactive on blocking Burma
from taking the chair, given that the Philippines will itself
assume the chair in 2007.

Comment: Great (Filipino) Taste, Less (ASEAN) Filling

¶8. (C) PM Soe Win has, since assuming office last October,
played only a supporting role to the SPDC’s top generals, a
clear downgrading of the job since the ouster of his
predecessor, Khin Nyunt. Interestingly, Soe Win and his
delegation flew to Manila in a GOB-procured turbo prop plane,
not the standard jet accorded to senior-level SPDC officials.
As a result, the trip took over nine hours (instead of three
hours) and, according to Amb. Gomez, the delegation members
arrived fatigued, adding to their apprehension at the
prospects of possible anti-SPDC demonstrators in Manila.

¶9. (C) Amb. Gomez said that a terrorism high-alert in Manila
precluded any “troubles” and observed that Soe Win was jovial
and confident by the end of the visit. Nonetheless, assuming
that Gomez’s read-out was accurate, it strikes us as quite
helpful that President Arroyo delivered a blunt political
message to Soe Win on ASSK, the National Convention, and the
regime’s road map — quite likely a result of Embassy
Manila’s recent efforts to urge the GRP to press the SPDC on
these issues (ref B). However, Soe Win is unlikely to
deliver the entire message to SPDC head honchos Than Shwe and
Maung Aye. Furthermore, a collective, most certainly
watered-down, ASEAN message to the SPDC on the road map will
be more palatable to the generals. End Comment.

¶10. (U) This message was coordinated with Embassy Manila.



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