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Cablegate: Cambodian Response On North Korean Refugees

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHPF #1927 2970814
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 240814Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7506
INFO RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK PRIORITY 1899
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 2409
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 0597
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 1546

C O N F I D E N T I A L PHNOM PENH 001927

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS, EAP/K, PRM; BANGKOK, GENEVA FOR RMA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/24/2016
TAGS: PREF PREL ASEC PINR CB
SUBJECT: CAMBODIAN RESPONSE ON NORTH KOREAN REFUGEES

REF: A. A) SEOUL 3600
B. B) STATE 174223

Classified By: Pol/Econ Chief Margaret McKean; Reason: 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (C) In response to reftel demarche, Pol/Econ Chief
raised the North Korean refugee issue with MFA Secretary of
State Long Visalo on October 19. Visalo said that he would
provide the copy of reftel non-paper to the Minister and
brief him on the USG request. On the question of sensitivity
to Cambodia's relationship with North Korea, Visalo offered
that former King Sihanouk had a historic relationship with
Pyongyang, but the current Cambodian government does not have
significant ties. The MFA official expressed concern over
the prospect of undocumented North Koreans crossing into
Cambodia from neighboring countries, but nevertheless
promised that he would discuss the matter with FM Hor Namhong
and provide the Embassy with a response.

2. (C) On October 20, the Ambassador and Pol/Econ Chief met
on a separate issue with PM advisor Om Yentieng, and also
provided him with a copy of the non-paper. P/E Chief
explained the USG proposal; Om Yentieng responded that the
processing of North Koreans that takes place in Cambodia is
the result of an understanding reached between the Prime
Minister and the South Korean Ambassador to Cambodia. Like
Long Visalo, he also dismissed concern over the sensitivity
of the issue in terms of North Korean-Cambodian bilateral
relations. However, he did register some concern over the
PM's safety due to the proximity of the North Korean Embassy
(which is next door) to the PM's residence -- should USG-RGC
cooperation on North Korean refugees become public knowledge.
Given the South Korean Embassy's interest in the matter, Om
Yentieng offered that the RGC would need to consult with the
South Korean government and factor the ROK's concerns into a
final decision. The PM advisor noted that Cambodia does not
distinguish between a North and South Korea per se, but views
Koreans as one people. He added that the PM is sensitive to
the plight of the North Koreans, given Hun Sen's personal
experience of having to seek shelter outside his own country
during the Khmer Rouge period.

3. (U) The Embassy will report any further discussions of
RGC response to our demarche request.
MUSSOMELI

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