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08BANGKOK2294 THAI MFA ON JULY 28 TALKS, DAO VISIT TO TEMPLE AREA

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“163931”,”7/29/2008 9:48″,”08BANGKOK2294″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,

“08BANGKOK2111|08BANGKOK2276″,”VZCZCXRO8390

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“C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BANGKOK 002294

 

SIPDIS

 

PARIS PLEASE PASS TO USMISSION UNESCO

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/29/2018

TAGS: PREL, PGOV, MOPS, ASEC, CASC, UNESCO, SCUL, PBTS,

UNSC, TH, CB

SUBJECT: PREAH VIHEAR: THAI MFA ON JULY 28 TALKS, DAO VISIT

TO TEMPLE AREA

 

REF: A. BANGKOK 2276 (NEW FM APPOINTED)

B. BANGKOK 2111 (FM RESIGNS)

 

BANGKOK 00002294 001.2 OF 003

 

Classified By: Ambassador Eric G. John, reason 1.4 (b) and (d).

 

SUMMARY

——-

 

1. (C) Embassy Bangkok\’s Defense Attache visited the vicinity

of the Preah Vihear temple on July 28; the atmosphere was

calm, and there were no signs of a significant military

build-up on the Thai side. The Foreign Ministry described

the atmosphere of the July 28 Thai-Cambodian talks on Preah

Vihear as \”warm and cordial\” and said both sides agreed to

\”exercise utmost restraint\” and continue working bilaterally

toward a peaceful settlement. Prime Minister Samak was

reportedly pleased with the talks; the next round of talks

has not yet been scheduled. A leading anti-government

activist from the People\’s Alliance for Democracy told us his

group did not intend to engage in further protests in the

vicinity of Preah Vihear. We are optimistic that further

bilateral discussions can result in a diplomatic solution.

End Summary.

 

DAO VISIT TO THE BORDER AREA

—————————-

 

2. (C) Escorted by Thai military personnel, Embassy Bangkok\’s

Defense Attache and 10 other members of the Attache Corps,

visited the vicinity of the Preah Vihear temple on July 28.

The group flew by helicopter to the local command center

established in the border region by the Suranaree Task Force.

The Thais briefed the group on the historical issues

surrounding the Thai and Cambodian claims to Preah Vihear

temple and the surrounding area. The Thais claimed that the

Cambodians had violated the 2000 Memorandum of Understanding

on boundary demarcation by maintaining a settlement of

Cambodians in Thai territory, and by building a road into

Thai territory.

 

3. (C) The atmosphere in the vicinity of the temple appeared

calm. The DATT observed a group of typical paramilitary

border patrol soldiers (not Army troops per se, but more like

a militia operating under Army auspices). These troops,

armed with M-16 rifles, were established in tents in the

disputed territory, intermingled with their Cambodian

counterparts. Thai officials explained that the two sides

had agreed not to increase the number of troops in the area

above 500, although they agreed each side could rotate fresh

troops in as replacements. The DATT saw no tanks or

artillery in the border area, and observed only a few

military vehicles operating on local highways. Arriving by

air, he saw no signs of a major military build-up. Villagers

in the area appeared to be going about their daily business

without special concerns, although the Thais maintain a

series of checkpoints on roads in the area close to the

temple area. (DAO will provide further reporting on this

visit through military channels.)

 

MFA READOUT

———–

 

4. (C) The MFA published on its website a statement

characterizing the bilateral talks in positive terms (see

para 8, below). In private conversation on July 29, MFA East

Asia Department XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

XXXXXXXXXXXXX told us that the Thais preferred not to

issue a joint statement with the Cambodians, partly because

of the ramifications that had flowed from the June Joint

Communique on the temple\’s inscription (ref B). XXXXXXX

indicated there were no glaring points of disagreement

between the two sides, and he characterized the Cambodian

side as flexible, having made critical last-minute

concessions. He confirmed that the bilateral Foreign

Ministers\’ meeting would remain the primary mechanism for

progress in the near term, although no date was set for the

 

BANGKOK 00002294 002.2 OF 003

 

next round of talks.

 

MISCELLANY

———-

 

5. (C) A Bangkok-based Ambassador told us that Prime Minister

Samak told him privately at a reception on the night of July

28 that he was very pleased with the results of the talks.

An Australian diplomat told us on July 29 that King Bhumibol

had directed the hurried appointment of palace advisor Tej

Bunnag as Foreign Minister (ref A), and this appointment

reflected the King\’s serious concern over both the Preah

Vihear tension and Thailand\’s chairmanship of ASEAN.

 

PAD NOT RETURNING TO THE BORDER

——————————-

 

6. (C) Separately, Poloff met on July 28 with Somkiat

Pongpaiboon, one of the core leaders of the People\’s Alliance

for Democracy (PAD). (The PAD recently engineered protests

in the vicinity of Preah Vihear and requested both

impeachment and criminal proceedings against government

officials involved in formulating Thailand\’s policy toward

the temple\’s inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List.)

Somkiat said the PAD did not intend to engage in further

protests in the vicinity of the temple; he emphasized that

the core issue for PAD remained the disposition of former

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, whom Somkiat expected

would soon be convicted of criminal offenses unrelated to

Preah Vihear.

 

COMMENT

——-

 

7. (C) It does not appear that the Thais and Cambodians made

a major breakthrough in their July 28 talks, but the tension

between the two countries appears to have lessened somewhat

in the wake of the election in Cambodia, and we are

optimistic that further bilateral discussions can result in a

diplomatic solution. Our DATT\’s visit to the area debunks a

number of overblown press stories on Thai military escalation

around the temple with tanks, large artillery, etc. End

Comment.

 

TEXT OF MFA\’S STATEMENT

———————–

 

8. (U) On July 29, the Thai MFA put the following statement

(labeled as a \”story\”) on the MFA\’s website, http://www.mfa.go.th:

 

BEGIN TEXT:

 

On 28 July 2008, Mr. Tej Bunnag, Foreign Minister of

Thailand, had a meeting with H.E. Mr. Hor Namhong, Deputy

Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and

International Cooperation of Cambodia, in Siem Reap to

discuss ways to resolve peacefully the situation in the

border area adjacent to the Temple of Preah Vihear.

 

The meeting was held in a warm and cordial atmosphere, which

reflected the goodwill and sincerity on both sides.

 

The Foreign Ministers concurred that both countries should

exercise utmost restraint to avoid the possibility of armed

confrontation, so that the current problem may be settled

through peaceful means. They both shared the view that

existing bilateral mechanisms should be used, including the

Foreign Ministers\’ Meeting and the Thai-Cambodian Joint

Commission on Demarcation for Land Boundary (JBC) which was

set up by the 2000 Memorandum of Understanding on the Survey

and Demarcation of Land Boundary.

 

Both sides would recommend to their respective Governments to

convene the next meeting of the JBC as soon as possible to

discuss issues related to the survey and demarcation of the

relevant sector under the Terms of Reference and Master Plan

 

BANGKOK 00002294 003.2 OF 003

 

of the JBC (Khao Sattasom/Phnom Sethisom – BP 1), following

the next Foreign Ministers\’ Meeting, at which remaining

matters would be discussed.

 

The Ministers would also recommend to their respective

Governments, as a provisional arrangement pending survey and

demarcation by the JBC, to undertake:

 

1. De-mining of the area to be surveyed and demarcated by the

JBC in a concerted manner;

 

2. Setting up of a Temporary Coordinating Task Force

comprising the relevant agencies from both sides to address

problems related to the area, including the Pagoda;

 

3. Redeploying both sides\’ respective troops out of the \”Keo

Sikha Kiri Svara\” Pagoda, the area surrounding the Pagoda,

and the Temple of Preah Vihear.

 

The Ministers noted that this arrangement shall be without

prejudice to the rights of both sides regarding the survey

and demarcation within the framework of the JBC and their

legal positions.

 

The Thai Foreign Minister also noted that the Thai side\’s

undertaking would have to be in accordance with Thailand\’s

constitutional and domestic legal requirements.

 

END TEXT.

JOHN

Written by thaicables

July 18, 2011 at 6:38 am

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