This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available. C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 RANGOON 000469
STATE FOR EAP/BCLTV; PACOM FOR FPA
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/21/2015
SUBJECT: STRANGE BEDFELLOWS: SPDC AND NLD COMMUNE ON SHAN
REF: A. RANGOON 460
B. RANGOON 196
Classified By: COM Carmen Martinez for Reasons 1.4 (b,d)
1. (C) Summary: In a highly unusual gesture, the GOB reached
out to the NLD leadership on April 21 to request permission
to publish the party's recent statement on its policy toward
ethnic nationalities and secessionist movements. The party
not only agreed, but was buoyed by a first-ever encounter
with a GOB cabinet ministry. NLD Secretary and Spokesman U
Lwin viewed the GOB as having "left the door open for future
conversations" and he acknowledged that the NLD and the SPDC
have some issues in common. End Summary.
2. (C) On the evening of April 21, NLD Secretary and
Spokesman U Lwin debriefed us on his unusual encounter
earlier in the day with senior GOB officials. According to U
Lwin, police Special Branch agents arrived mid-day at NLD
headquarters in Rangoon and politely invited him to the
Ministry of Information. U Lwin was taken aback; the Burmese
regime has essentially ignored the NLD for the past year and
previous efforts to contact the party had always been
undertaken by the now-defunct Military Intelligence (MI). U
Lwin readily agreed to the offer and was escorted to the
Ministry in an official GOB motorcade.
3. (C) At the Ministry of Information (MOI), U Lwin met with
several senior officials, including a Director General-level
officer in charge of broadcast media. The official said that
the GOB had appreciated the NLD's April 19 statement
declaring that Burma's States and Divisions must never secede
from the Union (ref A) and requested the NLD's permission to
publish the statement in the official press.
4. (C) The MOI official further noted that the Minister of
Information would hold a press conference on April 22
addressing a recent exile-based declaration of independence
for the "Federated Shan States" and also requested the NLD's
permission to use the party's statement at the conference. U
Lwin said he agreed to both requests on the basis that the
NLD statement had been issued for public consumption. He
reiterated to us that it remains NLD policy "to oppose any
move to establish a parallel government or otherwise undercut
efforts aimed at achieving a true and genuine Union" (see
5. (C) On April 22, the GOB published the NLD statement in
the official regime newspaper "The New Light of Myanmar."
Also published on April 21 and April 22 were similar
statements from numerous cease-fire groups, government
organizations, and GOB-affiliated associations "totally
opposing and condemning acts and aims of renegade Sao Hkam
Hpa, his group, and his cohorts."
Comment: Something(s) in Common
6. (C) According to NLD senior officials, the Ministry of
Information's overture was the first time any GOB cabinet
ministry has reached out to the opposition party - and the
first time in over a year that the regime has approached the
NLD on an issue other than security or to curtail the
activities of party members. U Lwin was clearly upbeat on
the encounter and concluded that the GOB had "left the door
open for future conversations." He was not optimistic that a
genuine political dialogue was imminent, but he did say "we
(the NLD and the SPDC) do have some issues in common."
7. (C) U Lwin acknowledged that the SPDC is giving undue
attention to the declaration of independence by a relatively
obscure Shan exile. Indeed, the regime has been running its
propaganda machine full speed for the past three days.
Although we do not yet have a read-out of the MOI's April 22
"press conference," we expect this exercise perpetuated an
ongoing campaign, commenced in February, to snuff out nascent
moves among some ethnic leaders to unify ethnic political and
8. (C) Despite the NLD's satisfaction at the GOB's decent
treatment, we don't believe that the regime has any intention
of drastically altering its antagonistic relationship with
the democratic opposition. The SPDC's favorite excuse for
40-plus years of military dictatorship is to "preserve the
Union." Any chance to play up threats to the Union, no
matter how hare-brained or quixotic, underscore the continued
necessity of military rule - at least in the minds of the
senior generals. End Comment.
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