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08PHNOMPENH730 ENHANCING THE U.S.-CAMBODIA MILITARY RELATIONSHIP

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“167863”,”8/29/2008 10:21″,”08PHNOMPENH730″,

“Embassy Phnom Penh”,

“UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY”,””,

“VZCZCXRO1562

OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH

DE RUEHPF #0730/01 2421021

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

O 291021Z AUG 08

FM AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE

INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

RUEKDIA/DIA WASH DC PRIORITY

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY 0123

RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 2316

RHMFIUU/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY”,

“UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PHNOM PENH 000730

 

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

 

DEPT FOR D, P, EAP/FO, EAP/MLS, AND PM

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PBTS, MASS, MARR, TH, CB

SUBJECT: ENHANCING THE U.S.-CAMBODIA MILITARY RELATIONSHIP

 

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Following the first ever U.S.-Cambodian

Bilateral Defense Discussions (BDD), the U.S. Pacific Command

(PACOM) team, accompanied by the Charge d\’Affaires, called

upon Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense General

Tea Banh to highlight progress achieved in strengthening the

bilateral military relationship. The PACOM team described

plans to expand security assistance programs and cooperation

in a number of areas. Demonstrating Cambodia\’s commitment to

enhanced mil-to-mil cooperation, Tea Banh announced RGC

support for the installation of a Defense Attach in

Washington, D.C., affirmed Cambodia\’s commitment to host the

GPOI Capstone exercise in 2010, and committed to work to

enhance cooperation through the State Partnership Program and

upcoming Partner Nation Maritime Needs Assessment. The DPM

also raised Preah Vihear, noting that talks scheduled for

August 29 were postponed due to the unavailability of key

Thai contacts. END SUMMARY.

 

2. (U) The first ever bilateral defense discussions

illustrate the broadening and deepening of the U.S.-Cambodia

military-to-military relationship. This relationship has

grown significantly over the past few years, with three

recent ship visits and the expansion of security assistance

programs to the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF). During

the BDD, the PACOM-RCAF team agreed to regularize the

relationship by making BDDs such as this an annual event.

The DPM designated Colonel Hun Manet of the National Counter

Terrorism Center to serve as the point of contact for

preparations for the next meeting, anticipated for late

spring 2009. The PACOM team highlighted for Tea Banh

expanding U.S.-Cambodia cooperation through security

assistance programs in the areas of maritime security,

counter-terrorism, boarder security, and peacekeeping

operations.

 

3. (SBU) Perhaps most significant, Tea Banh announced the

intention of the RGC to meet next week to discuss the

possibility of installing a Cambodian Defense Attach (DATT)

in Washington, D.C. (NOTE: While the DPM announced the plans

to meet to discuss this issue, a senior officer from the

Cambodian Foreign Policy and Plans Department separately told

A/DATT that the Cambodians planned to announce their

intention to install a DATT next week. RCAF counterparts were

encouraging on the issue of finally assigning a DATT to D.C.,

however they cautioned about the challenges to achieving this

goal in the near term due to the need to coordinate closely

with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of

Finance and Economics, and the fiscal implications of opening

a DATT office in D.C. END NOTE.)

 

4. (U) The Minister also affirmed Cambodia\’s commitment to

host the Global Peacekeeping Operations Initiative (GPOI)

Capstone exercise and the creation of a dedicated working

group to begin preparations for the 2010 exercise. Tea Banh

expressed his appreciation for the invitation to observe the

upcoming 2009 exercise which will be held in Indonesia. Tea

Banh welcomed PACOM\’s announcement that the State Partnership

Program will soon be approved and announced the creation of a

working group to better collaborate on the preparations for

Cambodia\’s participation in this valuable program.

 

5. (SBU) Tea Banh also explained that the bilateral talks on

the Preah Vihear dispute planned for August 29 in Siem Reap

were unfortunately canceled due to some difficulties for

their Thai counterparts, referring to the recent political

unrest in Thailand. He informed the CDA that had the meeting

gone ahead as planed, he expected both sides to announce a

further withdrawal (or \”redeployement\”) of both countries\’

troops. The CDA expressed understanding for the postponement

but noted that further withdrawals would help reduce tensions

in the area.

 

6. (SBU) COMMENT: Throughout the meeting, Tea Banh appeared

more engaged and responsive to the issues raised than he has

in previous encounters, and he attempted to convey a sincere

appreciation for the strengthening military ties between the

two countries. (NOTE: General officers from the International

Relations Department later lamented to A/DATT that the

Minister\’s attempts to express his deep appreciation for the

expanding relationship were lost in translation. END NOTE.)

The military relationship has expanded significantly since

restrictions were lifted in early 2006. The successful first

BDD and strengthening of mil-to-mil ties demonstrate the

normalizing\” of our bilateral relationship. The first BDD

 

PHNOM PENH 00000730 002 OF 002

 

paves the way for even greater cooperation on security

issues. The instillation of a DATT in D.C. would help to

capitalize on these recent gains.

CAMPBELL

Written by thaicables

July 18, 2011 at 7:02 am

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