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Cablegate: Preah Vihear: Gag Order?

VZCZCXRO0337
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHPF #0631 2131121
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 311121Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK IMMEDIATE 2595
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING IMMEDIATE 2528
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS IMMEDIATE 0078
RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI IMMEDIATE 4060
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON IMMEDIATE 0447
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW IMMEDIATE 0410
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS IMMEDIATE 0634
RUEHGP/AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE IMMEDIATE 0827
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0104
RUEKDIA/DIA WASH DC IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS PHNOM PENH 000631

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

PARIS PLEASE ALSO PASS TO US MISSION TO UNESCO, NSC FOR
PHU, DEPT FOR D, EAP, AND L

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV UNESCO SCUL MOPS PBTS TH CB
SUBJECT: PREAH VIHEAR: GAG ORDER?

REF: BANGKOK 2294

1. (SBU) Summary: The Cambodian government circulated the
same summary of Monday's Siem Reap meeting as provided by the
RTG to Embassy Bangkok (Ref A.) Throughout this busy,
post-election week, Cambodian officials have been notably
silent on the subject of Preah Vihear. Prime Minister Hun
Sen told the press that Cambodia is prepared to draw back
troops from the disputed area at the same time that Thailand
does, but avoided any lengthy discussion of when such
withdrawals might begin. A senior contact explained this
reticence as giving the Thai government room to maneuver
vis-a-vis their domestic critics, but expressed hope that a
follow-on bilateral meeting will be confirmed for August 7.
The situation on the ground remains a stalemate. End
summary.

2. (SBU) Ministry of Foreign Affairs Secretary of State Long
Visalo, who has participated in both rounds of bilateral
negotiations, told the DCM July 30 that his government has
imposed "an instruction of silence" about ongoing bilateral
negotiations on Preah Vihear. Visalo noted that the Council
of Ministers has distributed to diplomatic missions the press
points jointly communicated by both governments following the
July 28 bilateral meeting. Visalo said the RTG had asked the
RGC not to talk too much about the issue while the new Thai
FM seeks support within his government and more broadly for
the way ahead mapped out in Siem Reap. Visalo said other,
more difficult issues had been discussed in the Siem Reap
session -- such as the disposition of the squatter's village.
However, he said the RGC did not want to spoil the positive
spirit or endanger the Thai ability to move ahead by
previewing too much too quickly.

3. (SBU) While the usually voluble Visalo was notably
reticient at the start of the conversation, he concluded with
two "small worries." First, he said Cambodian officials were
actively engaged with Thailand to set a date for the next
bilateral meeting. They had proposed August 1, but that had
not worked for the Thai delegation. They were still waiting
for information on whether August 7 would work. Visalo
expressed concern that the Thais were trying to quietly and
slowly change the facts on the ground, and speculated it
might be many months before the bilateral meetings resolved
the "still-very real issue" of soldiers cheek-to-jowl in the
disputed area. He also expressed concern about what he
described as Thai "comparability" -- citing as an example
Thai insistence that if Cambodian monks remained in the
pagoda, negotiated language must state that Thai monks would
remain as well (despite the fact that there are no Thai monks
there presently.) The Cambodians continue to argue that the
1962 ICJ decision -- and the Court's instruction's to
Thailand to withdraw its troops -- resolves questions of the
border placement in the Preah Vihear area. But, they worry
that as international attention to the standoff diminishes,
the situation on the ground will become a prolonged and
problematic stalemate.
MUSSOMELI

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