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08BANGKOK2854 THAI CAMBODIAN BORDER DISPUTE: THAI CLAIM CAMBODIAN VIOLATION OF SOVEREIGNTY

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“170550”,”9/19/2008 7:46″,”08BANGKOK2854″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,

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SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR EAP/MLS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/19/2018

TAGS: PREL, PGOV, TH, CB

SUBJECT: THAI CAMBODIAN BORDER DISPUTE: THAI CLAIM

CAMBODIAN VIOLATION OF SOVEREIGNTY

 

REF: A. BANGKOK 2487

B. BANGKOK 2464

C. STATE 86724

D. BANGKOK 2428

E. PHNOM PENH 679

 

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

 

1. (C) Summary: MFA Permanent Secretary Virasakdi Futrakul

engaged the Ambassador September 16 regarding the

Thai-Cambodian border dispute and Cambodian Prime Minister

Hun Sen\’s September 15 reported comments that Thailand should

give up the chair of ASEAN. Virasakdi claimed that border

tensions had been exacerbated after Cambodia moved troops

into the Ta Kwai temple on the border of Surin Province.

Thai Army contacts gave us a similar story, claiming that

Cambodia had moved regular Army troops into the area of Ta

Kwai and Ta Muen temples in a provocation designed to justify

an appeal to third-party, international mediation.

 

2. (C) Comment: We recommend the U.S. position on the

Thai-Cambodian border dispute remain that this is an issue

that should be solved bilaterally, not through recourse to

the UNSC. Thai-Cambodian border tensions remain high despite

apparent progress made during August 18-19 meetings (reftel

A) regarding the Preah Vihear and Ta Muen temples between the

then-Thai Foreign Minister Tej Bunnag and Cambodian Foreign

Minister Hor Namhong. Due to the distraction of the ongoing

political tensions in Bangkok, the Thai parliament has not

yet approved the interim agreement that would move forward

discussions on troop redeployment and border demarcation. As

such, Thailand and Cambodia have not been able to test the

progress achieved last month. Meanwhile, efforts by both

sides to probe abilities to respond/control access elsewhere

along the border appear to be underway. Hun Sen\’s public

questioning of whether Thailand was suitable to chair ASEAN

hit a sore spot with the RTG, and will likely set back

efforts to restore trust between the two sides. End Summary

and Comment.

 

The Diplomatic view…

———————-

 

3. (C) MFA PermSec Virasakdi claimed to Ambassador September

16 that Cambodia had recently violated Thai sovereignty by

moving approximately seventy soldiers into the Ta Kwai temple

(Ta Krabey in Khmer). According to the RTG, the temple is

located in Surin Province approximately thirteen kilometers

from the Ta Muen temple also under dispute. The RTG claims

that the temple is in Thai territory on the Thai side of the

watershed, adjacent to areas to be surveyed and demarcated by

the Joint Commission on Demarcation for Land Boundary (JBC).

Virasakdi previewed to Ambassador his plans to meet with the

Cambodian Ambassador to Thailand and present an Aide-Memoire

protesting Cambodia\’s violation of Thailand\’s sovereignty, a

move subsequently reported in the Thai press.

 

4. (U) Diplomatic missions in Bangkok received a fact sheet

from the MFA later September 16. According to the fact

sheet, a Cambodian military unit of approximately thirty

soldiers on August 3 encroached on Thai territory in the area

of the Ta Kwai temple. Following discussions between the

militaries of both sides at the local level, the Cambodian

unit withdrew August 6. On September 6, however, more than

seventy Cambodian troops once again intruded into Thai

territory and had occupied the Ta Kwai temple and its

vicinity. The Thai side informed the Cambodian troops that

they were in Thai territory and requested they withdraw from

the area, but Cambodian forces disregarded the request. The

Thai then deployed a paramilitary group of approximately

thirty-five troops to the area. The Thai Second Army Region

Commander held consultations September 13-14 with his

Cambodian counterpart, after which troops on both sides

redeployed away from each other. Currently, no troops from

either side are in the temple. However, both sides agreed to

 

BANGKOK 00002854 002 OF 002

 

maintain a small number of troops in the area.

 

5. (C) Thai officials reacted badly to Hun Sen\’s reported

challenging of Thailand\’s credentials to serve as ASEAN

Chair, telling us and the media that the remarks were

insulting and out of line. The RTG had interpreted Hun Sen\’s

statement as related to the continuing Thai-Cambodian border

conflict. Opposition Democrat Party MP Kraisak Choonhaven,

who played a key role in changing Thai policy towards

Cambodia in the direction of engagement when he served as a

maverick young adviser to his father PM Chatchai Choonhaven

from 1988-91, sputtered to us September 17: \”Who the hell

does that butcher think he is challenging our credentials?\”

(note: According to the press reports, Hun Sen reportedly

said \”Thailand is in political turmoil but is chairing ASEAN.

I think it would be difficult for Bangkok to hold an ASEAN

summit.\” End Note).

 

…and the Military one

———————–

 

6. (C) Royal Thai Army XXXXXX of Intelligence XXXXXXXXX

XXXXX told us September 16 that the Ta Kwai temple

area has been jointly patrolled by Thai and Cambodian

paramilitary troops for many years. The RTG had recently

become alarmed, however, after Cambodia moved regular troops

to occupy the temple. Cambodia withdrew troops from the

temple after negotiations between local commanders, but the

Cambodian regular soldiers remain stationed near the temple

grounds. XXXXXX claimed that Thai paramilitary troops were

the only Thai forces in the area of the temple.

 

7. (C) Regarding Ta Muen, XXXXX said the RTG maintained

that this temple was in Thai territory. Thai paramilitary

troops had patrolled the temple for many years. Thailand

allowed Cambodian citizens to visit the temple, but

Cambodians needed to travel through Thai territory in order

to access the temple, XXXXX said. A local Cambodian troop

commander had recently tried to send Cambodian troops to the

temple, but the Thai paramilitary troops had refused to allow

the troops to enter. The local Thai commander had told the

Cambodian commander that the temple was open to all civilian

visitors, but that the Cambodian military would not be

permitted into the temple. XXXXXX told us that the RTA

viewed the Cambodian actions at Ta Kwai and Ta Muen as

provocations intended to try to create a situation that would

draw UN Security Council consideration of the border disputes.

JOHN

Written by thaicables

July 19, 2011 at 5:50 am

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