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Cablegate: Ambassador's Farewell Call On Fm Hor Namhong: Deeper

VZCZCXRO6424
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHPF #0701/01 2351002
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 221002Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 2304
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKDIA/DIA WASH DC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY 0110
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 2305
RHMFIUU/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PHNOM PENH 000701

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR D, P, EAP/FO, EAP/MLS, and S/WCI. Please also pass to USAID

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PBTS MARR TH CB
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S FAREWELL CALL ON FM HOR NAMHONG: DEEPER
RELATIONS WITH A MORE MATURE CAMBODIA

REF: PHNOM PENH 679

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. In an August 21 farewell call on Foreign Minister
Hor Namhong, the Ambassador congratulated the FM on his diplomacy in
respect to the dispute over Preah Vihear, highlighted the continued
strengthening of bilateral relations, expressed his optimism about
proposed KRT funding from the United States, and conveyed the
importance of a high level meeting between the UN's David Tolbert and
a representative from the RGC. FM Hor Namhong expressed his
commitment to not only settle the Preah Vihear dispute peacefully,
but to use the same strategy for the two smaller temples which are
also being contested. He also stressed the importance of U.S.
funding for the UN side of the KRT in order to deliver justice to the
Cambodian people. The FM rounded out the meeting by requesting U.S.
support for Cambodia's bid to become a non-permanent member of the UN
Security Council for a two year term beginning in 2013. END SUMMARY.

Improved Bilateral Relations
-----------------------------

2. (SBU) The FM expressed appreciation for improved U.S.-Cambodian
relations during the last few years. Hor Namhong vowed to continue
to work to strengthen the "sanctity of a relationship which is
growing day to day," and specifically thanked the Ambassador for
support in the areas of health and education. The Ambassador
credited the Cambodian government for the improvements in bilateral
relations and stated his appreciation for the RGC's efforts to foster
better understanding and cooperation between the two countries. The
Ambassador noted that it will take considerably more time and
continued effort to overcome misunderstandings engendered over the
last fifty years, but said the close collaboration will continue
after his departure. To further emphasize this point, he told Hor
Namhong about Deputy Secretary Negroponte's proposed visit next
month, explaining that the Deputy Secretary will be the highest level
State representative to come to Cambodia in several years and that
his visit reflects the increasing importance the U.S. places on our
bilateral relations with Cambodia.

Preah Vihear: Peaceful Solution Imperative
------------------------------------------

3. (SBU) The Ambassador praised Hor Namhong's diplomacy in response
to the Preah Vihear standoff. He described the FM's recent statement
to the press which compared the negotiations on Preah Vihear to a
"steamroller," in that they are "slow but moving ahead," to be
particularly astute. Hor Namhong noted that he was pleased with the
result of the recent talks with his Thai FM counterpart and the King
of Thailand, with all parties agreeing that a peaceful solution is
imperative for the two neighbors. However, his suggestion to use the
same type of diplomacy in relation to Ta Moan Thom and Ta Moan Touch,
two additional border temples which Thailand has occupied in the
past, was not commented on by his Thai interlocutors. Nonetheless,
Hor Namhong affirmed that once the area is stable, it is his
government's intention to reopen the international border crossing at
Preah Vihear to tourists entering from Thailand. Hor Namhong
mentioned that some UN Security Council members continue to watch the
issue closely and noted that the Cambodian permanent representative
intended to provide UNSC members with an update on the success, so
far, of the bilateral approach.

Khmer Rouge Tribunal: The road ahead
------------------------------------

4. (SBU) The conversation then quickly turned to the topic of the
KRT, with Hor Namhong expressing his concern that the UN side is
facing a shortfall of funding. He stated the ECCC needs
approximately 40-50 million dollars to see it through to the end of
2009, and appealed to the U.S. government to contribute. The
Ambassador responded that the embassy is deeply committed to a just
accounting for KR-era crimes and noted that the issue is being
considered at the highest levels of the Department. The Ambassador
speculated that if other countries were to see America donating, they
would follow suit and lift the tribunal out of financial jeopardy.
The Ambassador noted recent allegations of corruption, which a RGC
meeting with the UN's David Tolbert will only help to resolve. He
urged Hor Namhong to ensure David Tolbert is received by the
government at a high level. (Note: in a later meeting, the Ambassador
was told by DPM Sok An that he would meet with Tolbert. End Note.)

UN Security Council: A request for support
------------------------------------------


PHNOM PENH 00000701 002 OF 002


5. (SBU) Hor Namhong concluded the meeting by appealing to the U.S.
for support of Cambodia's 2012 bid to become a non-permanent member
of the UN Security Council in 2013 and mentioned that ASEAN is behind
the nomination. Given its recent history with genocide, civil war,
and a UN transition, Cambodia is well placed to sit on the Council
and share knowledge with other members. The Ambassador responded
that Cambodia's experiences would certainly bring an important
perspective to UNSC deliberations (Note: While ASEAN apparently backs
Cambodia's bid, it appears that the ROK is breaking Asian solidarity
and competing for the 2013 seat. End Note.)

6. (SBU) COMMENT: As reflected in the congenial and mutually
respectful meeting between Hor Namhang and the Ambassador, the
U.S.-Cambodian relationship is clearly stronger and more cooperative
than in previous years. The Cambodian government's willingness to
accept U.S. advice and exercise restraint, both physical and verbal,
in its recent dealings with Thailand has demonstrated a new sense of
calmness and maturity for this young democracy. Indeed, in a large
number of areas, including human rights, Burma, trafficking,
Montagnards, North Korea and the KRT, Cambodia has demonstrated a
surprising degree of trust and confidence in U.S. advice and
guidance.

Mussomeli

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