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08BANGKOK2233 PREAH VIHEAR: GBC TALKS END IN STALEMATE

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“163013”,”7/22/2008 11:12″,”08BANGKOK2233″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,

“08BANGKOK2207″,”VZCZCXRO3143

OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM

DE RUEHBK #2233/01 2041112

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 221112Z JUL 08

FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3778

INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS IMMEDIATE 0907

RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI IMMEDIATE 5479

RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 5352

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE

RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE

RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE

RHHMUNA/USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE”,

“C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BANGKOK 002233

 

SIPDIS

 

PARIS PLEASE PASS TO USMISSION UNESCO

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/22/2018

TAGS: PREL, MOPS, ASEC, CASC, UNESCO, SCUL, PBTS, TH, CB

SUBJECT: PREAH VIHEAR: GBC TALKS END IN STALEMATE

 

REF: BANGKOK 2207 AND PREVIOUS

 

BANGKOK 00002233 001.2 OF 003

 

Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission James F. Entwistle, reason 1.4 (

b) and (d).

 

——-

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (C) Thailand derived no definitive results from the July

21 General Border Committee (GBC) meeting with Cambodia,

according to our MFA and military sources. The highest

levels of the RTG were discussing possible next moves, an MFA

official told us, although he declined to elaborate on what

these may be other than to emphasize Thailand\’s desire that

the dispute remain a bilateral issue between Thailand and

Cambodia. Director of Joint Intelligence, Royal Thai Armed

Forces Headquarters, Lieutenant General Surapong Suwana-adth

told an invited gathering of the military attache corps

(excepting the Cambodian defense attache) on July 22 that the

Thai military did not want to see an increase in tension.

Despite the highly politicized nature of the issue, Surapong

did not view it as a military problem and stated that he

continued to work closely with his troops and his Cambodian

counterparts to prevent any accidental military flare-ups.

However, the uneasy standoff between Thai and Cambodian armed

forces would continue, with Thai government officials

refusing mediation by ASEAN and both sides refusing to

withdraw their troops. The GBC agreed to meet again in

August. Although press reports described Thai villagers in

the area preparing to \’hunker down,\’ sources told us that

local administrators remain calm. Overall, the July 21

meeting may have produced a diplomatic deadlock, but it

appeared to give military leaders from both sides the

opportunity to exchange views and reinforce existing

communications. MFA Permanent Secretary Virasakdi Futrakul

has asked us to come in to discuss Preah Vihear on the

afternoon of July 23. We will urge consultation and caution.

End Summary.

 

——————————-

GBC YIELDS NO IMMEDIATE RESULTS

——————————-

 

2. (C) The July 21 General Border Committee meeting made

little headway in resolving the sovereignty dispute between

Thailand and Cambodia in the area of the Preah Vihear temple,

stated Thai military and MFA officials in multiple

conversations throughout the day on July 22. Director of

Joint Intelligence Lieutenant General Surapong told a meeting

of Bangkok-based military attaches (minus Cambodia\’s) that

the GBC began with serious prospects for a written agreement

to come out of the meeting. However, an afternoon bilateral

meeting reversed the progress (NFI) achieved during a mid-day

session and the end result was that after eight hours of

negotiations, the two sides walked away without a significant

agreement. In a separate conversation with Embassy

representatives, Surapong stated that he did not view the GBC

meeting as a failure, but rather part of the ongoing process

to resolve the matter.

 

3. (C) MFA Department of East Asian Affairs XXXXXXXXXXXX

XXXXX confirmed Surapong\’s readout of the GBC meeting.

He added that neither side conceded to withdraw troops from

the temple complex and surrounding areas, but that both

countries had agreed to demonstrate self-restraint when it

came to the use of their respective military forces and

pledged to prevent further politicization of the issue.

Mongkul made it clear that Thailand saw no need for mediation

by ASEAN or any other third party, but instead preferred the

matter to remain a purely bilateral one with Cambodia. For

this reason, Thailand had tried to derail Cambodia\’s request

for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Preah

Vihear. However, XXXXX did note that Thailand planned to

raise the matter during a July 22 working lunch of ASEAN

Foreign Ministers scheduled to take place in the context of

the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting in Singapore.

 

4. (U) Royal Thai Armed Forces Supreme Commander General

Boonsrang Niumpradit led Thailand\’s negotiating team,

accompanied by Army Commander General Anupong Paojinda, Army

 

BANGKOK 00002233 002.2 OF 003

 

Chief of Staff General Songkitti Chakkrabat, Border Affairs

Department Director-General Lieutenant General Niphat Ehnical

and MFA Permanent Secretary Virasakdi Futrakul.

 

———————-

NOT A MILITARY PROBLEM

———————-

 

5. (C) Surapong frankly told the Attache Corps on July 22 he

considered the current escalation of events to be the result

of Thai and Cambodian domestic political agendas (namely,

those relating to the Cambodian national election on July 27

and the ongoing efforts of anti-government forces in

Thailand). He emphasized that Thailand would continue to

address the Preah Vihear matter using existing frameworks,

such as the GBC but that, given the current political climate

in both countries, neither side could expect a quick

resolution.

 

6. (C) While generally refusing to comment on the sovereignty

issues surrounding Preah Vihear temple and the surrounding

area, Surapong referenced an MOU signed by both countries in

2000 wherein they agreed \”not to carry out any work resulting

in changes of environment of the frontier zone, pending the

survey and demarcation of the common land boundary\” (Article

5 of the 2000 MOU). Surapong stated that Thailand had

respected the MOU, but Cambodians had violated it when they

established a Cambodian \”squatter\” village at the base of the

temple complex.

 

7. (C) Separately, Colonel Natchanok Teeptranon, Aide de Camp

of the 2nd Army Area Commander, told us that the situation

along the border remained calm and stable after the GBC

meeting. He described Thai and Cambodian troops sharing food

and talking amicably with each other. The Thais have noted

that Thai and Cambodian troops in the border area knew each

other well and have good cross-border communication.

Surapong also emphasized that the border units were in good

communication with higher commands, and he was confident that

conditions at the border (e.g., an accidental weapon

discharge) would not result in escalation beyond the national

authorities\’ control.

 

———————————–

TROOPS REMAIN AT PRE-MEETING LEVELS

———————————–

 

8. (C) According to Surapong, Thailand continued to maintain

approximately 500 soldiers in the immediate vicinity of Preah

Vihear, with Cambodia having a similar number on the other

side of the border. The Thai forces included army rangers

for whom the Preah Vihear area is part of their regular area

of operations. Various Thai demining troops are also in the

area. Both military forces were supplied with light arms and

rocket propelled grenades. July 22 Thai press articles

claimed that about 2,400 Thai military forces remained in

nearby areas to supplement those positioned the temple

complex, although Natchanok declined to confirm the exact

number of troops to us.

 

———————————

LOCAL SENTIMENT CAUTIOUS BUT CALM

———————————

 

9. (C) Local press reported that Thai villages near the Preah

Vihear temple complex had prepared for the possible exchange

of fire between Thai and Cambodian soldiers by digging

bunkers and conducting school evacuation drills. Local

administrators remained optimistic that the RTG would

successfully negotiate a resolution to the conflict and the

possibility of armed confrontation is not causing panic among

the villagers, Sisaket province ISOC intelligence officer

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX told us on July 22.

Phatthanaphong stated that area sub-district heads and

village headman assured XXXXXXX that they would not

make any movements that would exacerbate the situation.

While politicians in the capital remain preoccupied by claims

of sovereignty, Thai media quoted Thai vendors near the

temple as more concerned about lost revenues since the RTG

declared the site off limits to tourists.

 

BANGKOK 00002233 003.2 OF 003

 

——-

COMMENT

——-

 

10. (C) Thai officials continue to hold fast to their

sovereignty claims with no indication they expect a quick

resolution to the matter. However, the Thai military clearly

appears keen to prevent the political tensions from

escalating into any kind of military clash with Cambodia.

MFA Permanent Secretary Virasakdi has called us in on July 23

to discuss Preah Vihear. We will urge that all diplomatic

steps be taken to resolve the issue as well as efforts to

avoid inadvertent military confrontation.

JOHN

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Written by thaicables

July 16, 2011 at 6:30 am

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