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08BANGKOK3021 MINOR CLASHES ERUPT ALONG THAI BORDERS WITH CAMBODIA AND BURMA

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“172661”,”10/6/2008 11:11″,”08BANGKOK3021″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,

“08BANGKOK2428|08BANGKOK2464|08BANGKOK2487|08BANGKOK2854|

08PHNOMPENH679|08PHNOMPENH814|08STATE86724″,”VZCZCXRO9774

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“C O N F I D E N T I A L

SECTION 01 OF 02 BANGKOK 003021

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR EAP/MLS

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/06/2018

TAGS: PREL, PGOV, TH, CB, BM

SUBJECT: MINOR CLASHES ERUPT ALONG THAI BORDERS WITH

CAMBODIA AND BURMA

 

REF: A. PHNOM PENH 814

B. BANGKOK 2854

C. BANGKOK 2487

D. BANGKOK 2464

E. STATE 86724

F. BANGKOK 2428

G. PHNOM PENH 679

 

BANGKOK 00003021 001.2 OF 002

 

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

(b) and (d).

 

SUMMARY AND COMMENT

——————-

 

1. (C) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs told us October 6

that the Cambodian military had violated the August 13

agreement between Thailand and Cambodian by digging a trench

in the disputed territory near the Preah Vihear temple. This

violation led directly to the October 3 clash that left two

Thai soldiers and at least one Cambodian injured. In

contrast, both the MFA and the Royal Thai Army (RTA)

downplayed a October 4 incursion into Thai territory by the

Burmese junta-backed Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA),

which targeted the house of a local district leader.

 

2. (C) Comment: The Thai-Cambodian border conflict remains

tense, but the Thai public, distracted by the domestic

political drama and the October 5 Bangkok governor\’s

election, has yet to seize on the recent clash. The incident

highlights the need for continued Thai-Cambodian discussions

on the border conflict; the Thai parliament still has not

approved the framework approach tentatively reached by both

sides due to the Thai government\’s ongoing focus on ongoing

internal political tensions. Ambassador will call on the new

Thai Supreme Commander October 7 and will urge that the two

sides resolve the conflict peacefully. The DKBA incursion

into Thai territory is the second such incident this year;

earlier in the year, suspected DKBA assassins murdered a KNU

leader resident in Thailand. End Summary and Comment.

 

Cambodia violated the agreement

——————————-

 

3. (C) Mongkol Visitstump, Counselor in the Department of

East Asian Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told

us October 6 that four unarmed Thai paramilitary rangers who

were on patrol October 3 in an area approximately one

kilometer west of the Preah Vihear temple discovered a

Cambodian military unit digging trenches in an area the RTG

claims to be Thai territory. The Thais approached the

Cambodian troops to ask them to quit their activities and to

leave the area but the Cambodians refused. According to the

Thai rangers, the Cambodian troops called their commanding

officer to ask for instructions on how to respond. The Thai

paramilitary troops reportedly heard the Cambodian local

commander tell the Cambodian troops to fire on the Thais; as

the unarmed Thais began to retreat, the Cambodian troops

opened fire. A Thai unit in the area came to assist the

rangers and returned fire, Mongkol said.

 

4. (C) Colonel Saranyu Viriyavejakul, Aide de Camp to RTA

Commander Anupong, told us October 6 that the Cambodian

troops had initiated the conflict by firing shots in the air,

then attacking the Thai paramilitaries with a

rocket-propelled grenade (RPG). Thai troops in the area came

to assist the unarmed rangers, and a five minute clash ensued

that left two Thai soldiers injured. Thai troops reported

that three Cambodian troops were injured (note: Cambodian

media reported that only one Cambodian soldier was hurt. end

note). Saranyu told us that conflict occurred in a disputed

area that has been patrolled jointly. After the clash, a

Thai captain had initiated communication with his Cambodian

counterpart, and the two sides had agreed to remove troops

from the area of the clash, Saranyu said.

 

BANGKOK 00003021 002 OF 002

 

5. (C) The MFA\’s Mongkol told us that the Foreign Ministry

had thought that the border area had calmed after the clash.

However the Cambodian Foreign Minister had, in the Thai view,

enflamed the situation by calling in the Thai ambassador in

Phnom Penh. The Cambodian note protesting the clash utilized

insulting language that accused Thai troops of being

responsible for the clash, Mongkol said. In response, MFA

Permanent Secretary Virasakdi Futrakul had called in the

Cambodian Charge d\’Affaires late October 4 to explain the

Thai position and to protest the aggressive actions of the

Cambodian troops. The MFA stated that Thai maps show the

area of the clash to be in Thai territory. Mongkol claimed

that Cambodian troops had also violated the Regional

Committee\’s August 13 agreement that both sides would refrain

from altering the area around Preah Vihear temple.

 

Looking forward

—————

 

6. (C) Mongkol told us that no dates have been finalized for

the next round of talks on the border conflict, but that the

RTG was exploring appropriate dates for meeting with

Cambodia. Mongkol confirmed that the border conflict would

be a topic for discussions when Thai Prime Minister Somchai

Wongsawat meets with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in

Cambodia on October 13.

 

7. (C) Saranyu told us that the RTA viewed international

coverage of the border conflict as biased toward the

Cambodian position. This was due to Cambodian government\’s

skillful use of the media, Saranyu said. With the Thai press

and government focused on the political tensions in Bangkok,

Cambodia had been able to influence the international media

in a way that supported the Cambodian position on the

conflict.

 

Thai-Burma border incursion by DKBA downplayed

——————————————— –

 

8. (C) Separately, both the MFA and the RTA confirmed media

reports of an October 4 incursion by the Burmese junta-backed

Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) into Thai territory in

Tak Province. The MFA told us that DKBA troops had entered

Mae Klong Klee village, but that the motivation for the

aggression was still unclear. The DKBA may have made the

move to target the residence of the village headman as

retaliation for his support for the Karen National Union

(KNU). The MFA said it was investigating the situation, but

speculated that the DKBA aggression could be a traditional

post-rainy season effort to extend control into areas that

had come under the influence of the KNU. The RTA\’s Colonel

Saranyu told us that the DKBA unit had fired a RPG at the

village headman\’s house, but the grenade had failed to

explode. Both the MFA and the RTA downplayed the clash and

said that the Thailand-Burma Border Township Committee (TBC)

was the appropriate mechanism for looking into the incident.

JOHN

Written by thaicables

July 19, 2011 at 5:59 am

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