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08BANGKOK3069 THAILAND BELIEVES CAMBODIA RECENTLY PLACED MINES IN DISPUTED PREAH VIHEAR AREA

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“173336”,”10/10/2008 9:40″,”08BANGKOK3069″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,

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

08BANGKOK3021|08PHNOMPENH679|08PHNOMPENH814|08STATE86724”,

“VZCZCXRO3054

OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM

DE RUEHBK #3069/01 2840940

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FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK

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RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY”,

“C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02

BANGKOK 003069

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR EAP/MLS

 

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

TAGS: PREL, PGOV, TH, CB

SUBJECT: THAILAND BELIEVES CAMBODIA RECENTLY PLACED MINES

IN DISPUTED PREAH VIHEAR AREA

 

REF: A. BANGKOK 3021

B. PHNOM PENH 814

C. BANGKOK 2854

D. BANGKOK 2487

E. BANGKOK 2464

F. STATE 86724

G. BANGKOK 2428

H. PHNOM PENH 679

 

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

 

SUMMARY AND COMMENT

——————-

 

1. (C) Two Thai soldiers were severely injured October 6 by

landmines that the Thai government believes were recently

placed by the Cambodian military in disputed territory near

the Preah Vihear temple. The Thai government is analyzing

fragments from the landmines in hopes of proving whether the

mines had been recently placed in the same area where a

October 3 clash left two Thai troops injured. The Thai

government has so far downplayed the mine incident in hopes

of facilitating productive talks with Hun Sen during Prime

Minister Somchai Wongsawat\’s October 13 visit to Phnom Penh.

 

2. (C) Comment: The Thai government continues to take a

low-key approach to the border dispute with Cambodia in the

hope that it can be resolved peacefully through bilateral

mechanisms. The RTG appears committed to this approach

despite what would appear to be a prime opportunity to try to

shift public opinion away from the ongoing political conflict

in Bangkok. We will continue to stress to our RTG

counterparts that we support resolving the issue through

peaceful, bilateral means. End Summary and Comment.

 

THAILAND ALLEGES NEW MINES LAID BY CAMBODIA

——————————————-

 

3. (C) The Thai MFA and Royal Thai Armed Forces Headquarters

(RTARF) have expressed serious concerns to us in recent days

about landmines that the RTG believes were newly placed by

Cambodia in the disputed area near the Preah Vihear temple.

The RTG\’s concern follows an October 6 incident that left two

Thai paramilitary soldiers severely injured. Media reports

said the explosions cost one ranger both of his legs, while

the other ranger lost his left leg. The troops were injured

after stepping on landmines while on patrol in the area of

the October 3 clash that left two Thai soldiers and at least

one Cambodian injured (Ref A).

 

4. (C) The RTG has so far publicly downplayed concerns

regarding the October 6 incident. Foreign Minister Sompong

Amornwiwat said publicly October 7 that the landmines likely

were placed in the area some time ago but that the government

was looking into the incident to verify whether the mines

were recently planted or remained from the Khmer Rouge era.

New Royal Thai Armed Forces Supreme Commander General

Songkitti Jaggabartra also downplayed the incident during the

Ambassador\’s October 7 courtesy call. Songkitti told

Ambassador that he considered the Joint Border Commission and

military to military negotiations the most appropriate fora

to raise the recent incidents.

 

PLANS TO RAISE BILATERALLY, BUT NOT BY PM

—————————————–

 

5. (C) Songkitti also told the Ambassador that he had

assigned RTARF Border Affairs Director Lieutenant General

Nipat Thonglek to coordinate with his Cambodian counterpart

so as to limit fallout from the recent incidents. Songkitti

planned to go to Cambodia to try to help resolve the issue

after progress had been made at Lieutenant General Nipat\’s

level. Songkitti told the Ambassador that he believed the

recent Cambodian actions were intended to take advantage of

 

BANGKOK 00003069 002 OF 002

 

the Thai government\’s preoccupation with the ongoing internal

political conflict.

 

6. (C) The Thai government has in recent days begun to take a

stronger line privately regarding the mine incident. During

a October 8 meeting with the DCM, RTARF Headquarters Chief of

Staff General Ratchakit Kanchanawat accused the Cambodian

government of placing new mines in the disputed area.

Ratchakit said the Thai military had proof that the mines

were recently laid due to forensic analysis of the mine

fragments from the explosion. Ratchakit said the mines were

a violation of bilateral agreements to not alter the disputed

areas and of the Ottawa Treaty on landmines. The RTG would

prepare evidence for Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat\’s

October 13 visit to Cambodia to meet Prime Minister Hun Sen

but would not make the accusation public before then,

Ratchakit said. The RTARF also told the DCM that the Thai

military had identified the mines as made in Russia.

 

7. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX in the MFA\’s Department

of East Asian Affairs, confirmed to us October 10 that the

RTG had verified that the landmines involved in the incident

were Russian-origin. XXXXXXX told us that while the RTG

believed that the mines had been recently placed in the

disputed area, the RTG was not yet prepared to indisputably

conclude that the landmines had been recently installed.

Fragments from the landmines were being evaluated in attempt

to determine if this was the case. If the RTG were able to

prove that Cambodia had recently placed the landmines in the

disputed area, the Thais would raise the issue in Geneva with

the United Nations, as both Thailand and Cambodia were

signatories to the Ottawa convention against land mines.

 

8. (C) The MFA\’s XXXXX told us that Prime Minister Somchai

was not expected to raise this issue during his October 13

meeting with Hun Sen because the RTG had not yet proven that

the mines were new. In addition, the MFA hoped positive

momentum could result from the Prime Ministers\’ meeting so as

to move bilateral discussions on the disputed border area

forward. Thailand did not want to internationalize the

border dispute, since the Thai government was confident that

bilateral negotiations would succeed if both sides were

patient.

JOHN

Written by thaicables

July 19, 2011 at 6:02 am

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