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Cablegate: Preah Vihear: Tensions Still High As Face-Off

VZCZCXRO9616
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHPF #0578 1991044
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 171044Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
INFO RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK IMMEDIATE 2576
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0085
RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0618

C O N F I D E N T I A L PHNOM PENH 000578

SIPDIS

PARIS PLEASE PASS TO US MISSION TO UNESCO

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/17/2010
TAGS: PREL PGOV UNESCO SCUL MOPS PBTS TH CB
SUBJECT: PREAH VIHEAR: TENSIONS STILL HIGH AS FACE-OFF
CONTINUES

REF: BANGKOK 2167

Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Piper Campbell, for reasons 1.5
B and C

1. (C) Cambodian sources seemed increasingly anxious about
continued tension along the Thai-Cambodian border July 17. A
Cambodian official told the Ambassador that the RGC is
seeking a face-to-face meeting early next week. A senior
armed forces (RCAF) official text messaged the acting Defense
Attache late in the day to say that Cambodia was responding
to news of another 100 Thai military being deployed by
sending "ten trucks of Cambodian gendarmes in full battle
gear" to the area. In the early evening, the Council of
Ministers shared with diplomatic missions a copy of the text
of a letter from PM Hun Sen to PM Samak Sundaravej (text
produced below.) Embassy has urged minimizing the number of
troops sent to the area, noting that packing more people into
an already tense atmosphere is likely to augment tensions;
called on the RCAF to respond with professionalism and calm;
and highlighted the importance of both countries finding a
neighborly way out of this situation. Embassies Phnom Penh
and Bangkok have shared information during the course of the
day.

2. (SBU) BEGIN TEXT OF HUN SEN TO SAMAK LETTER

DEAR EXCELLENCY,

FIRST. I WOULD LIKE TO EXPRESS MY SINCERE THANKS TO YOUR
EXCELLENCY AND I WAS VERY PLEASED TO TALK WITH YOU ON THE
TELEPHONE ON THE NIGHT OF 16 JULY 2008. IT IS IMPORTANT THAT
WE, REPRESENTATIVES OF OUR TWO STATES, HAVE STILL REAFFIRMED
THE ONGOING AND GOOD NEIGHBORLY RELATIONS AND LONG-LASTING
COOPERATION SO THAT WE COULD RESOLVE THE PROBLEM THROUGH
NEGOTIATIONS AS WELL AS SETTING THE MEETING SCHEDULE BETWEEN
YOUR EXCELLENCY AND HIS EXCELLENCY TEA BANH (NOTE: CAMBODIAN
MINISTER OF DEFENSE) ON 21 JULY 2008.

DURING OUR TELEPHONE CONVERSATION, I ASKED YOUR EXCELLENCY TO
ORDER THE WITHDRAWAL OF THAI TROOPS FROM THE AREA OF KEO
SIKHA KIRI SVARA PAGODA (CALLED PREAH VIHEAR PAGODA) NEAR THE
TEMPLE OF PREAH VIHEAR, SO THAT THE SITUATION COULD RETURN TO
THE STATUS PRIOR TO 15 JULY 2008.

UNFORTUNATELY, AS OF 17 JULY 2008 THE SITUATION IS WORSENING
DUE TO A CONTINUING INCREASE IN THE NUMBERS OF THAI MILITARY
INSIDE AND AROUND THE AREA OF KEO SIKHA KIRI SVARA PAGODA
(CALLED PREAH VIHEAR PAGODA) AND THE PRESENCE OF THAI
PROTESTERS.

THE DETERIORATING SITUATION IS VERY BAD FOR THE RELATIONS
BETWEEN OUR TWO COUNTRIES, AND, THEREFORE, I WOULD LIKE TO
ASK YOUR EXCELLENCY TO TAKE MEASURES TO EASE THE TENSIONS AND
ORDER THE THAI TROOPS TO WITHDRAW FROM THE AREA OF KEO SIKHA
KIRI SVARA PAGODA (CALLED PREAH VIHEAR PAGODA) NEAR PREAH
VIHEAR TEMPLE. THESE TROOPS HAVE ENCROACHED ON OUR TERRITORY
ON 15 JULY 2008, AND HAVE SINCE INCREASED IN NUMBERS RATHER
THAN WITHDRAWING.

PLEASE ACCEPT, YOUR EXCELLENCY, THE ASSURANCES OF MY HIGHEST
CONSIDERATIONS.

SIGNED AND STAMPED

HUN SEN
PRIME MINISTER
KINGDOM OF CAMBODIA

17 JULY

END TEXT.

MUSSOMELI

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