Viewing cable 09RANGOON205, BURMA'S GENERALS: STARTING THE CONVERSATION
Every cable message consists of three parts:
To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.
If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol). Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #09RANGOON205.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin 09RANGOON205 2009-04-02 07:07 2010-12-12 21:09 SECRET Embassy Rangoon
DE RUEHGO #0205/01 0920733
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 020733Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY RANGOON
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8841
S E C R E T RANGOON 000205
DEPT FOR EAP/DAS MARCIEL AND EAP/MLS
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/02/2019
TAGS: PREL PGOV BM
SUBJECT: BURMA'S GENERALS: STARTING THE CONVERSATION
Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Larry Dinger for Reasons 1.4 (b) & (d)
¶1. (S) As the review of U.S. policy regarding Burma
continues amid signs that the military regime wants to engage
with Washington, we offer some thoughts about the senior
generals, what motivates them, what they might want from
engagement, and what the U.S. might place on the table.
Burma's military machine is top-down, xenophobic and utterly
focused on preserving national unity. At the same time,
senior generals are embarrassed by their international pariah
status and crave respect. Some are concerned with Burma's
ever-growing dependence on China and its geostrategic
location amidst historical foes. Others, having seen a
glimpse of the international community's benevolence
following Nargis, no doubt wish for a lifting of sanctions
and economic assistance. No matter the motivations, a
dialogue with Burma's senior military leaders will be slow,
frustrating, and, within the U.S., politically charged.
While dialogue is unlikely to yield major, near-term
political outcomes such as changes to the constitution, it
might sow seeds for future change by illustrating to the next
line of leaders what an improved relationship with the U.S.
could look like. Above all, a dialogue could lead to
tangible benefits for Burma's long-suffering people, a
worthwhile goal in itself. End summary.
How do they think?
¶2. (S) All major decisions in Burma are made at the very
top. Senior general Than Shwe, Vice Senior General Maung
Aye, and their inner circles call the shots. Than Shwe's
dominant personality is keenly felt. Subordinates appear to
share only good news, leaving the senior generals potentially
ignorant of many realities. In this information vacuum, the
generals continue to pursue their "roadmap to democracy" and
ruinous, top-down economic policies. While self interest
clearly is a factor in their thinking, it would be a mistake
to think they are motivated exclusively by self-enrichment.
These are true believers who are convinced they are divinely
entrusted in the tradition of the Burmese "warrior kings"
with doing what is best for the country and the people. They
feel they are simply misunderstood by the outside world.
¶3. (S) These are career military men, most with combat
experience in Burma's past internal conflicts, who value the
unity and stability of the state as a top priority. The
senior generals assert, and seem genuinely to believe, that
the military is the only guarantor of that unity and
stability. Thus, they see a dominant role for the armed
forces in governance to be essential. The senior generals
inculcate this military ethos, indoctrinating new cadets to
be "the triumphant elite of the future."
¶4. (S) Since only very senior career military men make real
decisions, such men would need to participate in any serious
engagement effort with the civilian-led U.S. The Burmese
military would be far more comfortable at the table in a
mil/mil environment, their comfort zone.
¶5. (S) The generals see themselves as devout Buddhists.
State media have recently inundated the public with scenes of
senior generals and their families consecrating the
newly-constructed Uppatasanti Pagoda in Nay Pyi Taw, a
replica of Rangoon's legendary Shwedagon Pagoda. Of course,
such acts of Buddhist merit-making have a public relations
aspect, but they also do reflect a philosophical base.
¶6. (S) Families matter. The senior generals spoil their
children and grandchildren. They seek to protect their
families--some were sent to Dubai in September 2007 to ride
out the Saffron Revolution protests and crackdown. The
generals also seek to ensure a firm financial footing for
their families' futures through lucrative positions at home
and bank accounts offshore. The application of our visa bans
against the generals' immediate family members irritates.
¶7. (S) Western rationality is not always apparent in regime
decision-making. Than Shwe reportedly relies on favored
soothsayers. We hear one such seer advised moving the
capital to the interior because Rangoon would be subject to
street disturbances and a horrific storm. Numerology also
factors in. Witness the overnight shift to a currency
divisible by nines in 1987 and the release of 9,002 prisoners
last September, reportedly to ensure an auspicious 2009.
Such decision methods may sound strange to us, but they are
everyday elements in the lives of many Burmese.
¶8. (S) The senior generals are xenophobic. They don't seem
to understand foreigners and certainly don't trust them,
particularly those who challenge their legitimacy. This may
be a reason why Than Shwe reportedly abhors Aung San Suu Kyi,
who grew up overseas, married a UK citizen and then returned
to Burma to challenge the military's authority.
Historically, the Burmese have fought wars with all their
neighbors, including China, India, and Thailand. While the
current regime relies heavily on China for investment, trade
and support in international institutions and accepts a
degree of Chinese advice as a consequence, it is very
unlikely that the senior generals would defer to Chinese (or
any outsider's) demands on core issues, particularly on the
military's central role in governance.
¶9. (S) The generals are paranoid about the U.S., fear
invasion, and have a bunker mentality. Past U.S. rhetoric
about regime change sharpened concerns. One rumored
explanation for Than Shwe's decision to move the capital to
Nay Pyi Taw, far from the coast, was supposedly to protect
from a sea-borne invasion force. The regime was truly
convinced the U.S. was prepared to invade when a helicopter
carrier sailed near Burmese territorial waters for
humanitarian purposes after Cyclone Nargis last May.
¶10. (S) Than Shwe and his colleagues view the current
period as one chapter in Burma's long history. They profess
that democracy requires a guided process of "gradual
maturity." They believe the U.S. and the West in general are
trying to force democracy on a country that is not yet
developed enough to handle it. This is more than a cynical
excuse to retain power. They think they know best.
¶11. (S) At the same time, the generals are proud and crave
the acceptance of the international community. They hate
being subject to sanctions and aspire to be treated with the
respect accorded other world leaders, including some
authoritarian ones. Interactions with key foreign visitors
and Burmese attendance at international fora always make
headlines in the government newspaper.
Why might the regime want to talk now?
¶12. (S) Indications are that the senior generals are hoping
for a fresh USG approach and are willing to explore
engagement. Even before the U.S. elections, the generals
were testing the waters. Last August, they suggested a
senior U.S. military official should visit Burma. More
recently, they have made clear they want conversations in
Washington and have asked to upgrade from Charge d'Affaires
to Ambassador for that purpose. They recently suggested
narcotics and POW/MIA issues might be useful topics for
initial discussion. They provided unusually high access
when EAP/MLS Director Blake visited Burma last week. What
motivates the desire to talk?
¶13. (S) When the U.S. response to Cyclone Nargis last May
was a major humanitarian effort rather than a much-feared
invasion, the generals were reportedly surprised and
gratified. More broadly, some senior leaders have drawn a
lesson from the Nargis response that international
humanitarian assistance can be valuable. Some in the military
are nervous about an overdependence on China; all recall the
difficult history with that looming neighbor. President
Obama's engagement theme intrigues. The generals want the
international respect that a more normal relationship with
the U.S. would bring. They feel a degree of pain, or at
least irritation, from sanctions, and want relief. It may be
that some neighbors, ASEAN leaders, maybe even the Chinese,
are urging the generals to try dialogue.
¶14. (S) Also, it is entirely possible that the most senior
generals are looking for an escape strategy. Retirement has
never been an option for Burmese leaders. Historically,
Burmese kings or generals and those close to them either have
died in office, been killed, or been deposed and imprisoned.
The current senior generals are getting old, but they have no
desire to be held to account for what the outside world
perceives as their crimes against the people. Than Shwe
reportedly has mentioned to some interlocutors, including
Indonesian President Yudoyono, his strong desire not to
appear before an international tribunal. All the top
generals undoubtedly want assurances that, if they
voluntarily step aside, they and their families will retain
their assets and will not be prosecuted.
What might the regime propose?
¶15. (S) Senior generals likely perceive that they have
already made concessions. They allow foreign embassies and
cultural units like the American Center to operate. They
have received high-level UN visits, including four thus far
in 2009. They have committed to a "roadmap to democracy,"
drafted a constitution, held a referendum, and announced
elections. They have released some political prisoners,
including several high-profile ones like Win Tin, though not
yet Aung San Suu Kyi.
¶16. (S) We should not expect significant progress on
political core issues in the near term. The regime is very
unlikely to reverse course on its "democracy" roadmap, to
rehash the 1990 elections or to revisit the new constitution.
The senior generals will not leave the scene willingly
unless they are confident of their own safety and of
financial security for themselves and their families.
¶17. (S) Some possible offers:
--The regime might accept some tweaks to the election
process; a degree of international observation is reportedly
already on offer.
--They might relax some terms of ASSK's current detention.
--They could possibly be persuaded to release some political
prisoners in advance of the elections. At a minimum, they
might consider resumption of ICRC access to political
--The regime would likely seek cooperation on perceived
win/win issues like counter-narcotics, counter-terrorism,
anti-trafficking, economic-policy advice, and disaster-risk
reduction. They likely would relish mil/mil and law
enforcement training opportunities.
--There also may be willingness to make concessions on
lower-profile issues that affect the operation of our
Embassy, such as visas, increased in-country travel
permission, and an expansion of our presence to include a
re-opening of the former U.S. consulate in Mandalay and/or a
USAID mission to oversee humanitarian assistance.
--Symbolic gestures carry much weight with the Burmese. The
regime has already signaled it wants to upgrade its COM in
Washington from Charge to Ambassador. It aspires for the
U.S. to use the country name "Myanmar," not "Burma."
If the U.S. engages, what might we raise and offer?
¶18. (S) Any engagement effort would likely take time, not
just one meeting or two, but a series of encounters that,
ideally, would gradually build confidence and a willingness
on the Burmese side to open up. That is the "Asian way." In
the early stages, it would be useful to dispel any regime
concern that the U.S. intends to invade or dominate. We
should hint that Burma stands to gain from decent
relationships with the outside world and that there are
alternatives to reliance on China. When leaders change their
ways they can have a fruitful relationship with the United
States based on shared mutual interests.
-- Still, it would be important up front to reiterate key,
long-term themes: the need to release political prisoners,
including ASSK, and initiate genuine dialogue.
-- Early on, we should accent shared mutual interests, such
as the win/win topics mentioned above: counter-narcotics;
trafficking in persons; disaster risk reduction; and remains
recovery from WWII, with a note that U.S.-facilitated
training in such areas could be possible.
-- The effects of the worldwide economic recession offer
opportunities. Burma's economy is suffering. Positive
political steps from the regime side could lead to an easing
of broad-based economic sanctions, spurring growth and
diversification in Burma's economy. We could dangle World
Bank and IMF technical assistance and, with progress, loan
packages. We could consider revisiting current restrictions
on the ability of UNDP to work with low-level GOB entities.
With sufficient progress, the sanctions specifically targeted
at the regime and its cronies could be on offer, too.
-- We should make clear our desire to provide increased
humanitarian assistance (outside of regime channels) to help
meet crying needs. Unstated but true: such aid would subvert
the regime both by building civil-society capacity and
illustrating to the grassroots in Burma that the outside
world helps and the regime doesn't. We should seek regime
cooperation on the Rohingya issue, offering USG assistance to
build livelihood opportunities in Northern Rakine State.
-- We could formally open a PD outreach center in Mandalay,
utilizing the U.S. consulate that closed in 1980.
Countrywide, we could offer increased educational exchanges.
Those who studied in the U.S. even many years ago retain fond
memories and view the U.S. in a positive light. Access to
quality education is priority one for Burma's citizens.
-- We could consider accepting the country name "Myanmar."
"Burma" is a vestige of colonial times that actually elevates
the Bamar majority over other ethnic groups. Practically
everyone inside uses the term Myanmar, as do all countries in
Southeast Asia, though the NLD has thus far refused to bend
on that topic.
-- We could accede to the regime request to upgrade their
COM in Washington from CDA to Ambassador.
¶19. (S) Some propose that getting started at a better
relationship is more important than insisting on
difficult-to-achieve democracy and human-rights outcomes in
the near term. In that view, U.S. regional and global
interests should drive Burma policy. Others remain adamant
that to demand less than the right democratic and
human-rights outcomes would be to sacrifice the efforts of
Nobel-laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and others in a wishful
expediency. Any walk down the road of dialogue will require
great patience and thoughtful judgments about how much to
offer and how much to demand. The regime's inclination
toward engagement is surely driven by its own perceived
interests (reducing sanctions, achieving respect, modulating
China's influence). However, the senior generals likely see
rapid movement to the West's democracy and human-rights goals
as downright dangerous. Still, one never knows how flexible
the other side will be until negotiations begin. Also, the
looming 2010 elections may be an opportunity. The process
will be flawed, but an aspect may be stage one of a
transition toward a next set of (mostly military) leaders.
U.S.-Burmese dialogue now could signal to that next
generation what a positive relationship with the U.S. might
offer, planting seeds for future change.
¶20. (S) Given the likelihood that major successes on the
democracy front will be slow in coming, we believe it
important for the U.S. to undertake a long-term effort to
build the groundwork for future democracy. Per our MSP, we
want to follow up on post-cyclone aid with a broader
humanitarian-assistance endeavor. If properly designed, such
assistance builds the basic capacity of people at the
grassroots to survive and to think beyond mere subsistence to
political goals. Such aid is subversive more directly as
well: recipients understand who helps them (international
donors) and who doesn't (the regime). In this context,
"humanitarian" aid can encompass health, non-state education,
micro-finance, and other local initiatives, all with
civil-society capacity-building components. The U.S. should
also focus on elements within the regime that show genuine
interest in our regional priorities. The units involved in
counter-narcotics, anti-trafficking, and infectious-disease
efforts would be good places to start. They have shown
willingness to act appropriately, but they need training.
Aside from contributing to our regional goals, assisting such
elements might encourage some broader re-thinking of regime
attitudes toward the Western world.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
ျပည့္ၿဖိဳးေတဇ က ဥေရာပ သမဂၢတရား ရံုး ကို ေလွ်ာက္ထား ခဲ့ေပမယ့္ တရားရံုးက ပယ္ခ်ခံရပါတယ္။
ညီျဖစ္သူ ထက္ေတဇ လည္း ၀င္ခြင့္ ဗီဇ မရရွိခဲ့ေပမယ္ ေရခ်ယ္ ေအး ဆိုတဲ့ နာမည္နဲ ့ေလွ်ာက္ ခဲ့တဲ့ ေရခ်ယ္ေတဇ ကေတာ့ စကၤာပူ မွာ ပညာေရး အက်ိဳးေဆာင္ လုပ္ငန္း လုပ္ေနတဲ့ အီတလီ ႏိုင္ငံသူ ႏွစ္ဦး
ဖယ္လီစီတာ နဲ ့ေမဂေရး တို ့ရဲ ့အကူအညီ နဲ ့ရရွိ သြား ခဲ့ပါတယ္။
Viewing cable 09RANGOON536, BURMA: SENATOR WEBB'S MEETING WITH PRIME
Every cable message consists of three parts:
To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.
If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol). Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #09RANGOON536.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin 09RANGOON536 2009-08-17 11:11 2010-12-12 21:09 SECRET Embassy Rangoon
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH RUEHTRO
DE RUEHGO #0536/01 2291149
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 171149Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY RANGOON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9360
INFO RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2233
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 5697
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 9299
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 6880
RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI 2291
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2671
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 RANGOON 000536
DEPT FOR EAP/MLS, DRL, AND IO
PACOM FOR FPA
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/16/2019
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM BM
SUBJECT: BURMA: SENATOR WEBB'S MEETING WITH PRIME
MINISTER THEIN SEIN
RANGOON 00000536 001.2 OF 004
Classified By: P/E Chief Jennifer Harhigh for Reasons 1.4 (b) & (d)
¶1. (S) During a one-hour meeting with Prime Minister Thein
Sein on August 14, Senator Webb requested a meeting with Aung
San Suu Kyi (ASSK) and urged her release from house arrest,
noting the positive impact it would have on bilateral
relations and Burma's standing in the world. The Senator
also sought the release and deportation of detained American
John Yettaw. Using classic regime rhetoric, the PM
criticized sanctions as harming the economy and hindering
democracy, and explained the regime's roadmap, promising
free, fair and inclusive elections. That said, the Prime
Minister made clear that Burma wants better relations with
the U.S. as well as the ability to communicate directly with
Washington; the regime has tapped Science and Technology
Minister and former Ambassador to the U.S. U Thaung as a
direct line to the GOB. The tone of the meeting was positive
and cordial, with both Senator Webb and the Prime Minister
citing the benefits that improved bilateral relations could
offer if certain issues are resolved. End summary.
¶2. (U) Codel Webb's August 14 meeting with the Prime
Minister and other GOB Ministers took place at Government
House in Nay Pyi Taw, Burma. Participants included:
Senator Jim Webb
Senate Professional Staff Member Marta Mclellan Ross
Charge d'Affaires Larry Dinger
DATT Colonel Brey Sloan
Political/Economic Chief Jennifer Harhigh
General Thein Sein, Prime Minister
U Thaung, Minister of Science and Technology
U Nyan Win, Minister of Foreign Affairs
Brig. Gen. Kyaw San, Minister of Information (also spelled
Maj. Gen. Khin Aung Myint, Minister of Culture
Col. Thurein Zaw, Deputy Minister, Ministry of National
Planning and Economic Development
Col. Thant Shin, Chief of Staff, Office of the Prime Minister
U Kyaw Kyaw, Director General, Protocol Department, MOFA
U Ye Lwin (notetaker)
Visit, Meeting with Head of State Can Enhance Bilateral
¶3. (C) PM Thein Sein greeted Senator Webb warmly, noting he
is very impressed with the Senator's achievements. He said
the GOB views the Senator's visit as a very important event,
and noted that the meeting with Senior General Than Shwe,
Burma's head of state, will help enhance the bilateral
relationship. Senator Webb replied that despite the
differences between the U.S. and Burmese governments, under
the right conditions there can be a new road forward. He
hopes for frank discussions. Senator Webb congratulated the
government for taking a step forward and preparing for
elections. Implementation of electoral laws would be an
important signal to the world. With progress on those areas
and the resolution of other issues, it will be possible to
have a new dialogue. The Senator said he understands that
Burma faces challenges and that stability in Burma's
multi-ethnic state is a complicated issue. Webb said he has
talked and written about the need for a new approach on
sanctions with Burma, but noted that events in the last few
months make any change in U.S. sanctions policy difficult.
RANGOON 00000536 002.2 OF 004
Senator Requests ASSK Meeting, Questions her Detention
¶4. (C) Senator Webb asked the PM to allow him to meet with
ASSK as an important signal to the U.S. He questioned the PM
why authorities believe it is necessary to continue ASSK's
house arrest, adding that most of the world judges the GOB by
how it treats ASSK.
¶5. (C) The PM replied that ASSK's trial is over and that
the verdict was in accordance with the law. ASSK's legal
status is purely a domestic issue. ASSK was given only the
minimum sentence of three years. The SPDC halved that
sentence, and she will be able to serve the remaining
eighteen months at home. If she follows the rules, the
sentence might be further reduced. The PM continued that
UNSYG Ban was not allowed to meet ASSK because her trial was
still underway during his July visit. The situation is
different now, allowing the GOB to accommodate the Senator's
request. Webb reiterated that he is interested in exploring
"a new road" with Burma, and added that from the world's
perspective, it will be very difficult to accept elections as
"open" if ASSK is kept away from the public.
Seeks Deportation of Detained Amcit
¶6. (C) Senator Webb also requested the release and
deportation of American John Yettaw as a goodwill gesture.
He said he does not defend Yettaw's actions, but stressed the
American's ill health. The PM replied that Yettaw has been
punished according to his crimes. The GOB has procedures
that it must follow in such cases, but he pledged that the
government will consider the request positively.
GOB Seeking Better Bilateral Relations
¶7. (C) Turning to bilateral relations, the PM noted that
the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1947,
before Burma's independence. Vice-President Nixon visited in
1958 and again in 1985. Ne Win had an official visit to
Washington in 1966. Senators McCain and Kerry have visited.
Burma received assistance from the U.S. before 1988 for
counternarcotics, security cooperation, poppy eradication,
education, health, and human resources. Post-Nargis, the
U.S. provided generous emergency assistance, for which Burma
is grateful. The GOB is trying to find remains of American
WWII soldiers and repatriate them.
¶8. (S) Thein Sein stated that Burma believes in peaceful
coexistence and strives for positive relations and good
communications with all countries. In that regard, he
continued, Burma has designated U Thaung, the Minister of
Science and Technology and a former Ambassador to U.S.
(present at the meeting), as the "communicator" for relations
with Washington. The U.S. and Burma had very good relations
before, the PM stated, and the GOB wants to engage in direct
communication and dialogue. Efforts via UN SYG Ban and UN
Special Envoy Gambari have not been direct, the PM said, and
he urged Senator Webb to "please tell the U.S. Government"
that Burma wants direct relations with the U.S. (Note:
Separately, Director General for Protocol Kyaw Kyaw told the
Charge that U Thaung can be available for direct conversation
with Washington. End note.) The PM also proposed the two
countries upgrade their representation to Ambassadors in both
Stability, Security Shape Regime's Outlook
¶9. (C) The PM avoided polemics, but nevertheless repeated
traditional regime rhetoric regarding Burma's diverse ethnic
background and the resulting need for stability and security.
The regime is doing its best to solve problems and educate
RANGOON 00000536 003.2 OF 004
the people about democratic practices, he said. The
government must take an all-inclusive approach; the focus
should not be on one individual or organization. Security,
development, human rights, and democracy are all related.
Burma must have security and stability for peace and
tranquility, he stressed.
PM Calls for Investment, Criticizes Sanctions
¶10. (C) Turning to economics, the PM noted that the
worldwide financial crisis and sanctions were taking a toll
on Burma's economy. Burma has an agricultural base and
produces enough rice to feed its people and export a surplus.
However, beyond food security, Burma needs industrialization
to develop. The country has natural resources, he stated,
but needs outside investment and technology. Western
sanctions create more poverty, hinder the development of
democracy, and create hatred of the West. Economic
development will lead to political stability and democracy.
Elections Will be Free, Fair, Inclusive
¶11. (C) The PM explained the regime's "Roadmap to
Democracy," saying Burma has learned the lesson of Iraq and
Afghanistan: don't move toward democracy in haste. The
constitution had been approved by 92.48 percent of the
people. Planned elections in 2010 will be free, fair, and
inclusive, he insisted. Political party and election laws
will be issued soon. All "eligible" parties will be able to
participate. The PM invited Senator Webb to return for
another visit and to tell President Obama "we wish him very
Senator Webb: U.S. and Burma Can Work Together
¶12. (C) Senator Webb responded by citing the Obama
Administration Burma policy review and noting that he had had
many discussions about Burma with then-Senators Clinton and
Obama. He came to Burma now to help shift bilateral
relations to a different path. The U.S. and Burma have all
the ingredients for a natural friendship once certain issues
are resolved. Both were colonized by the British, both have
many nationalities. Diversity is a challenge but also a
strength. The Senator said he is aware of the situation
inside Burma since 1947, which has been complicated for a
long time by China. U.S. and Burma can work together, and the
U.S. can provide balance in the region.
¶13. (C) Senator Webb acknowledged the PM's point that a
country needs development to foster democracy. He referred
to Vietnam, where he had helped by serving as a bridge
between the government and U.S.-based Vietnamese. He had
observed parallels between Burma and Vietnam during his 2001
personal visit to Burma. He noted that one of his friends
had closed his business in Burma because of sanctions,
putting people out of work. Burma's citizens could have a
better life if relations were better. The Senator concluded
by reiterating that the GOB must address a number of issues
to gain the trust and support of the United States. The PM
again thanked the Senator for visiting and added "we will
consider your points."
¶14. (C) U Thaung is currently Minister for Science and
Technology. He served as Ambassador to the U.S. from
1991-1996, and has also served as Ambassador to Canada. He
is a former Minister of Labor and Minister of Industry-1 and
has held various GOB positions related to mining and
industry. He reportedly graduated from the same Defense
Service Academy class as Vice Senior General Maung Aye and is
believed to have served with Senior General Than Shwe in the
RANGOON 00000536 004.2 OF 004
Psychological Warfare Department. Many observers consider
him a regime insider with close ties to those two senior
¶15. (SBU) Codel Webb declined the opportunity to clear on