Search

 

Cablegate: Defense Das Ray's Visit to Cambodia Reinforces

VZCZCXRO8948
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHPF #1374/01 3101051
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 061051Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PHNOM PENH 001374

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/MLS, G/TIP, EAP/RSP, DRL, SWCI; SECDEF FOR DPMO

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: MARR MOPS PREL PHUM KWMN CB
SUBJECT: DEFENSE DAS RAY'S VISIT TO CAMBODIA REINFORCES
STRONG POW/MIA COOPERATION AND THE U.S.-CAMBODIA
RELATIONSHIP

REF: PHNOM PENH 90

1. (SBU) Summary: Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for
POW and Missing Personnel Affairs Charles A. Ray visited
Cambodia from November 3-6, to review ongoing POW/MIA
recovery efforts. Discussions included the current state of
the U.S.-Cambodia relationship as well as TIP, upcoming
elections, the KR Tribunal and Burma. DASD Ray met with PM
Hun Sen, senior RGC officials from the Royal Cambodian Armed
Forces (RCAF) and Ministry of Interior and members of the
press. This was DASD Ray's second successful trip to
Cambodia in 2007. DASD Ray previously served as the US
Ambassador to Cambodia from 2002-2005.

CAMBODIA: POW/MIA COOPERATION: EXAMPLE TO THE REST OF THE
--------------------------------------------- --------------
WORLD
-----

2. (SBU) During his November 5 meeting with Prime Minister
Hun Sen, DASD RAY expressed his gratitude for the continued
cooperation from the RGC on POW/MIA issues. He emphasized to
the PM that when he negotiates with other governments on
POW/MIA issues he always highlights Cambodia as an example of
cooperation on POW/MIA issues. DASD RAY clarified a
statement he had made at their last meeting in January 2007.
At that time, DASD Ray stated that the Joint POW/MIA
Accounting Command expected to complete excavating identified
incident sites in the next few years. PM Hun Sen took this
to mean there would be a reduction in the U.S. accounting
effort in Cambodia. DASD Ray noted that if additional sites
are identified, the U.S. will request permission to excavate.
In short, the U.S. commitment to the fullest possible
accounting will continue in Cambodia. The PM was grateful
for DASD Ray's comments and especially for showcasing
Cambodia as a model of cooperation on POW/MIA issues. The PM
recalled urging the governments of Vietnam and Laos to
cooperate in a similar fashion.

3. (SBU) The conversation then turned to the issue of land
grabbing. The PM noted that the number of land disputes has
decreased. He acknowledged accusations that the rich and
powerful were behind land shortages, but said the story was
more complex. There has been an increase in the population;
large and extended families require more land to survive.
The PM said he has started a new campaign in which he will
provide a house and two hectares of land to disabled
soldiers. The RGC would help build the infrastructure around
these areas because "disabled soldiers are the most
vulnerable segment of the population."

4. (SBU) DASD Ray informed the PM of his other
responsibility to the Secretary of Defense in addition to
POW/MIA recovery, that being personnel recovery and support
to civil search and rescue. DASD Ray said the U.S. is
working to create an international network of countries that
have the capability to work together to provide emergency
rescue assistance in the event of natural disasters. DASD
Ray used the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami as an example of
countries assisting each other after a natural disaster
strikes. DASD Ray hoped Cambodia would be an important part
of the network and said that the USG was ready to help build
the capacity of the RGC to respond to a natural disaster.
The PM thanked the U.S. Embassy for the USG's assistance in
searching for a missing airplane that crashed earlier this
year.

TIP AND ELECTIONS
-----------------

5. (SBU) DASD Ray praised Hun Sen for his leadership and
the RGC for making great strides in combating the dreadful
practice of human trafficking. DASD Ray noted that national
elections were to be held next July and said that he hoped
the elections in 2008 will build upon the achievements of the
last national election in 2003. He emphasized that it was
important for Cambodia to have a representational system in
place. The PM stated he was determined to make the elections
better and that the NEC was doing its best. The RGC is
trying to provide the NEC with everything they need. For
previous elections, the RGC relied on "friends" (donors) for
assistance. The PM noted that the RGC can cover 60 percent
of the funding for next year's national elections. The RGC
is working to institute a national identification card for
Cambodians over the age of 15; he expressed his belief that
the ID card would assist with registration and the overall
election process. Hun Sen said he did not believe there

PHNOM PENH 00001374 002 OF 002


would be constitutional issues or violence in Cambodia as
compared to the problems Thailand and the Philippines face
with elections.

U.S.: BURMA and U.S.- ASEAN SUMMIT
----------------------------------

6. (SBU) The PM stated that ASEAN was prepared to talk
about Burma and to discuss it with the United States. He
suggested the summit would have to be for "ASEAN 9.5" (Burma
would only be permitted to send its Foreign Minister) to
facilitate discussions. The PM acknowledged that, "ASEAN 10"
would not be acceptable to the USG but said "ASEAN 9" would
not be acceptable to ASEAN. The PM concluded his remarks on
Burma by pointing out that this summit could provide an
opportunity for dialog with Burma.

7. (SBU) The PM briefly mentioned the Khmer Rouge Tribunal,
but noted that he could not talk about ongoing cases before
the court. He explained that he had personally contacted the
Governor of Pailin Province before Nuon Chea's arrest.
(Pailin Province is a former Khmer Rouge stronghold and Nuon
Chea, known as Brother Number Two, was Pol Pot's Deputy.)
The PM said he had advised the Governor that he must take
responsibility, monitor the situation, and carry out the
orders of the court, which included bringing his former
comrades to Phnom Penh. It was the intention of the PM to
ensure that Cambodian citizens respected the capacity of the
government by enlisting the support of the former Khmer Rouge
cadres to assist with the detention and transport of Khmer
Rouge defendants to Phnom Penh.

8. (SBU) DASD Ray concluded the visit by telling the PM how
impressed he was with the progress Cambodia has made, but
noting that challenges remain ahead. He stressed that
flexibility, creativity and new ideas will be needed to
accomplish the POW/MIA accounting mission in Southeast Asia.


9. (SBU) During his visit, DASD Ray also met with the
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sar Kheng; the
Chairman of the POW/MIA Committee; visited a POW/MIA recovery
site; and spoke with journalists regarding the POW/MIA
accounting mission and the evolving US-Cambodia relationship.
Sar Kheng said that the POW/MIA recovery effort is an
important humanitarian priority for Cambodia, past, present
and future. Sar Kheng commented that Cambodia's full
cooperation is without conditions and strictly a humanitarian
effort. DASD Ray met with General Pol Saroeun, Chairman of
the POW/MIA Committee. DASD Ray mentioned to General Pol the
importance of the RCAF restructuring itself. He said reform
was important to building support in the U.S. Congress for
expanded mutual assistance programs such as
military-to-military assistance and emergency search and
rescue capability.

10. (U) DASD Ray reviewed and approved this cable prior to
his departure.
MUSSOMELI

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

COP24: Rapid Action Urged At Climate Change Conference

Following a year of devastating climate disasters around the globe, from California to Kerala, and Tonga to Japan, the annual UN Climate Change Conference opens with the goal of finalising the implementation guidelines for the Paris Climate Change Agreement. More>>

ALSO:

New Report: Refugees In PNG Being Pushed To The Brink

Refugee Council of Australia and Amnesty International paint a stark picture of a traumatised refugee population hit hard by Australia's recent healthcare and counselling service cuts, as well as continued threats to their safety. More>>

ALSO:

Jamal Khashoggi: UK, France, Germany Join Calls For Credible Investigation

Germany, the United Kingdom and France share the grave concern expressed by others including HRVP Mogherini and UNSG Guterres, and are treating this incident with the utmost seriousness. More>>

ALSO:

MSF Not Wanted: Nauru Government Shows Continued Callousness

The Nauruan Government’s decision to ask Doctors Without Borders to immediately leave shows continued callousness towards asylum seekers desperately seeking a safe place to call home, Green MP Golriz Ghahraman said today. More>>

ALSO: