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Cablegate: Ambassador's Meeting with Cambodian Foreign

O 020222Z DEC 03
FM AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1172
INFO ASEAN COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L PHNOM PENH 001990


DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/BCLTV

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/01/2013
TAGS: PREL PTER CB
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S MEETING WITH CAMBODIAN FOREIGN
MINISTER HOR NAMHONG

REF: A. STATE 329077
B. PHNOM PENH 1969

Classified By: Ambassador Charles A. Ray. Reason: 1.4 (b) (d).

1. (C) Summary. The Ambassador briefed Foreign Minister
Hor Namhong December 1 on his recent meetings in Washington
and California. The Ambassador addressed concerns the
Foreign Minister had expressed about the activities of the
Cambodian Freedom Fighters, explaining that the case remained
open. He told the FM that Washington officials appreciated
Cambodia's actions and cooperation in a number of areas, most
notably counter-terrorism, but also anti-trafficking and the
linkage of labor rights and trade. He stressed the need for
judicial reform and his commitment to moving the process
forward. On the current political situation, the Ambassador
urged the government to continue to engage in peaceful,
Constitutional dialogue to break the deadlock over formation
of a new government. End summary.

2. (C) On December 1, the Ambassador met with Foreign
Minister Hor Namhong to brief him on his recent meetings in
the U.S. and to provide a response to the Minister's
questions regarding the FBI's investigation into the
activities of the Cambodian Freedom Fighters (CFF) (reftels).
On the CFF, the Ambassador emphasized that the
investigation was not by any means closed and that Washington
had convened an interagency meeting in October to discuss the
CFF and similar cases. He said that we would continue to
ensure that the CFF case was not overlooked, but the Minister
should understand that in the post 9/11 environment the
Department of Justice and FBI had higher priorities. Hor
Namhong thanked the Ambassador for the prompt response,
observing that Cambodia was an open society, that nothing
prevented citizens from organizing a legitimate political
party to further their political goals, and that there was no
reason to resort to armed force.

3. (C) The Ambassador told Namhong that there were a number
of areas in which Washington officials appreciated Cambodia's
actions, most notably the RGC's cooperation in the war on
terrorism. He added that many in the U.S. Congress have
concerns about working with the Cambodian government, but
they recognized the areas of mutual interest and the need to
cooperate. We were looking for ways to enhance this
cooperation.

4. (C) Noting that the problem of human trafficking was one
of the President's highest priorities, the Ambassador told
the Foreign Minister that several senior Department officials
praised Cambodia's anti-trafficking efforts. They similarly
praised the RGC's cooperation in returning accused pedophiles
to the U.S. for prosecution.

5. (C) The Ambassador commented that judicial reform in
Cambodia has lagged and we believed there was a critical need
to move judicial reform forward and to create mechanisms for
conflict resolution so as to instill implicit trust among
Cambodian citizens. Influential American legislators agreed
with this assessment, he said. The Ambassador told the FM
that a group of judges and legal scholars would be visiting
from California in January and he hoped to get them involved
in assessing the state of the legal system and judicial
reform process. Hor Namhong commented that Cambodia also
needs teachers for the new School of Judges and Prosecutors.

6. (C) Washington officials also praised Cambodia's creation
of linkage between labor rights and trade, the Ambassador
added. He pointed out that while much needed to be done,
Cambodia could serve as a model for others in this area.

7. (C) On the current political situation, the Ambassador
related to Hor Namhong that there was concern among some in
Washington about the delay in forming a new government and
potential for violence. He urged the government to continue
to engage in peaceful, Constitutional dialogue to resolve the
deadlock.

8. (C) In response to the FM's question about the feelings
and attitudes of the Cambodian-American communities with
which he met in San Francisco and Long Beach, the Ambassador
said that he found the communities to be divided on political
issues with allegiance to the parties very strong. However,
the younger generation appeared to be less polarized, he
said. Nevertheless, the issues that most interested the
Cambodian-Americans he met were the deportation of Cambodian
nationals and why immigrant visas were not issued in Phnom
Penh.

9. (C) Hor Namhong expressed concern that the vote in Taiwan
approving the holding of a referendum on independence held
the potential for endangering regional peace and stability.
Lastly, he mentioned to the Ambassador that the Indonesian
government had contacted the Cambodians regarding the details
of our Article 98 Agreement.

RAY

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