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09BANGKOK406 CAMBODIA PREPARES PREAH VIHEAR PLAN FOR UNESCO MEETING IN SEVILLE; SEEKS MORE ACTIVE U.S. ROLE IN ENCOURAGING THAI-CAMBODIAN MILITARY WITHDRAWAL

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212535″,”6/17/2009 10:53″,”09PHNOMPENH406″,

“Embassy Phnom Penh”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,

“08STATE77799|08STATE78884|09PHNOMPENH224|09STATE41703”,

“VZCZCXRO1115

OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH

DE RUEHPF #0406/01 1681053

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 171053Z JUN 09

FM AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0835

INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

RUEHMD/AMEMBASSY MADRID PRIORITY 0025

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0707”,

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

PHNOM PENH 000406

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR EAP/MLS, P, D, L, IO

BANGKOK FOR T. HINES

STATE PASS TO NPS – STEPHEN MORRIS

PARIS PLEASE PASS TO US MISSION TO UNESCO – S. ENGELKEN

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/17/2019

TAGS: PREL, SCUL, KTIA, KJUS, UNESCO, EAID, TH, CB

SUBJECT: CAMBODIA PREPARES PREAH VIHEAR PLAN FOR UNESCO

MEETING IN SEVILLE; SEEKS MORE ACTIVE U.S. ROLE IN

ENCOURAGING THAI-CAMBODIAN MILITARY WITHDRAWAL

 

REF: A. STATE 41703 – SECRETARY\’S APRIL 23 CONVERSATION

WITH THAI FM KASIT

B. PHNOM PENH 224 – CAMBODIA HOLDS ITS POSITION

(APRIL 3 CLASH)

C. 08 STATE 78884 – GUIDANCE TO POSTS ON

CAMBODIA-THAILAND BORDER

D. 08 STATE 77799 – INSCRIPTION OF PREAH VIHEAR

 

Classified By: AMBASSADOR CAROL A. RODLEY FOR REASONS 1.4 (B, D)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: In advance of his participation in the 33rd

session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Seville,

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Council of

Ministers Sok An asked to see the Ambassador June 16 to

outline progress by the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) in

developing a full Management Plan for the Preah Vihear World

Heritage site inscribed last July (Ref D). Sok An said

development of the plan met barriers such as Thai

foot-dragging on negotiations related to the disputed border

in the vicinity of Preah Vihear and delays to agreed border

demarcation. Thai non-responsiveness to reparation claims

for the destruction of a market by Thai heavy weapons is

another obstacle. Sok An also noted the RGC\’s difficulty in

accepting Thailand on the proposed Preah Vihear international

coordinating committee (ICC), in light of Thailand\’s invasion

of Cambodia last July 15 and multiple subsequent armed

clashes (Ref B). Sok An stated that withdrawal of troops and

return to the situation found before last July 15 would go a

long way to remedying the border dispute impasse. Prime

Minister Hun Sen appointed Sok An to negotiate with Thai

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsupan on the border; talks

might be scheduled for July, but success could depend on Thai

parliament giving permission to a joint border demarcation

committee at Preah Vihear. Sok An requested U.S. assistance

to \”encourage both sides\” to reach a resolution. END SUMMARY.

 

Success Hampered by Thai Obstacles

———————————-

 

2. (C) Sok An recalled the helpful cooperation of the U.S.

delegation to the Quebec City UNESCO inscription by consensus

of Preah Vihear last July 7 (Ref D), that had culminated

earlier successful meetings in Christchurch and Paris. Now

there was no more success and the source of the problem was

the Thai claim on sovereign Cambodian territory. Once the

Thai referred to this as an \”overlapping area\” but now they

claim it solely as Thai territory, he said. Last July 15,

Thailand sent military close to the temple and invaded

Cambodia; they occupy Cambodian territory and don\’t want to

discuss withdrawal of troops. Although they say that they

want to negotiate, the Thai raise problems such as the name

of the temple, referred to in Khmer as Preah Vihear (PREE-ah

vih-HEE-ah). The 1962 judgment of the International Court of

Justice which awarded the temple to Cambodia, referred

exclusively to the \”Temple of Preah Vihear\” but the Thai

insist on joint communiques referring to the temple as Khao

Praviharn (the Thai name). Sok An cited this as an example

of Thai efforts to delay negotiations or render them

unproductive. He noted the unilateral Thai demarcation of

the borderline in the vicinity of Preah Vihear was

inconsistent with the 1908 map used by the ICJ. Sok An

complained that a bilateral team ready to begin demarcation

in late May was halted when the Thai pulled out of a

previously agreed mission, citing the excuse that they needed

permission from the Thai parliament.

 

3. (C) Sok An noted that UNESCO delegations continued to go

to the main Preah Vihear Temple complex (recognized to be in

Cambodian territory) to continue to develop the required

UNESCO World Heritage Management Plan. Pulling out a

foot-high stack of reports, he walked the Ambassador through

completed and draft plans, including plans to preserve the

site\’s \”spectacular landscape environment\” overlooking virgin

Cambodian forest from the temple perched atop a cliff on the

Dangrek Range. Part of the landscape seen from that view was

being referred to as the Sussman Rectangle, he noted, in

honor of private consultant Richard Sussman, a retired U.S.

National Park Service official.

 

Reparations From April 3 Destruction of Market

——————————————— –

 

4. (C) Showing photographs of a marketplace (catering to

tourists) from before and after the April 3 clash of arms

 

PHNOM PENH 00000406 002 OF 003

 

(Ref B), Sok An noted that Thai heavy weapons had set the

market on fire, causing $2.5 million in property destruction.

Although Cambodia had paid reparations to Thailand of over

$30 million due to the destruction of Thai property in

anti-Thai riots in Phnom Penh in 2003, now the Thai were

silent on the fire started by Thai weapons that ruined the

livelihoods of 312 Cambodian families inside recognized

Cambodian territory, he said. A diplomatic note the Royal

Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent directly to the

Royal Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs on May 11 has gone

unanswered, he said. The RGC is planning an archaeological

excavation on the area of the razed market, and will help

restore the market with a well-laid out area of modern kiosks

suitable to the environment. UNESCO was well aware of this

destruction, he said and UNESCO Director General Koichura

Matsura had issued a statement of concern on April 4,

deploring the loss of life and calling for renewed

negotiations on the border. Flipping through a large photo

album depicting multiple bullet pock-marks to the ancient

Preah Vihear temple, Sok An noted that UNESCO DG Matsura had

separately called on the international community to ensure

Preah Vihear\’s protection.

 

Plans Going Forward…

———————-

 

5. (C) In the meantime, Cambodia was developing its national

plan to resettle the market families and those from a

separate village that had sprung up within the panoramic

view. These 800 families would be relocated to a model

village 10 kilometers distant where Sok An had just helped

build the first 5X10-meter wooden house, each of which would

be situated on 5000 square meters of land. An

inter-ministerial committee was ensuring that water, a

school, a health center, pagoda, and modern market would all

be located on this new land concession. Multiple ministries

— water resources, land management, interior, agriculture —

were actively involved and the Cambodian Mine Action Center

had been called in to conduct humanitarian de-mining. (NOTE:

Preah Vihear and the surrounding area was one of the last

Khmer Rouge strongholds attached to then KR headquarters at

Anlong Veng, which held out until 1998. END NOTE.)

 

…But Not Without the Help of the U.S.

—————————————

 

6. (C) Sok An painted a picture of an active Cambodian team

well served by international consultants, intent on creating

a strong Management Plan for the Preah Vihear UNESCO World

Heritage Site. He said that the U.S. could help by

addressing a number of issues in Cambodian-Thai bilateral

relations and by \”encouraging both sides\” to take action.

Cambodia was the victim of an invasion on July 15, and

although Cambodia has tried to negotiate several times, these

negotiation have not gone forward. Cambodia has taken the

view that slow negotiations are better than no negotiations,

but both sides need the intention to go forward, he said.

Cambodia enjoyed the warm support of the U.S. in Quebec and

Cambodia hoped for the continued support of the U.S.

Praising Thai Prime Minister Abhisit for agreeing to

negotiation under the terms of a bilateral 2000 MOU on the

border through a Joint Border Commission (JBC), Sok An was

nonetheless skeptical that negotiations would move quickly.

He said that he would meet with Thai DPM Suthep in July some

time, but hinted that the bilateral demarcation team already

agreed to by the JBC would have to start its work at Preah

Vihear if any serious progress was to be made. Describing

Thai maneuvering as \”very tricky,\” and noting that Thai

military movements were persistent in the Preah Vihear area,

he called on the U.S. to push for bilateral troop withdrawals

to positions consistent with the pre-July 15 status quo ante.

 

7. (C) COMMENT: Post will forward to the U.S. delegation to

the UNESCO Committee meeting in Seville some of the

background materials provided by Sok An. Following the trail

of the bilateral negotiation on Preah Vihear is not always

easy as it overlaps several Thai governments, some of which

have timely reversed positions (e.g., a June 18, 2008

bilateral communique that UNESCO decided should be

disregarded). Sok An frequently likes to cite Cambodian

successes in verbal negotiations, even if not part of the

official written record. While we recognize the merit in

UNESCO\’s decision to request the RGC to invite Thailand to

join the ICC, absent serious Thai engagement on a diplomatic

 

PHNOM PENH 00000406 003 OF 003

 

resolution of the border issue, something has to give. The

ICC needs to be formed to start its work. Similarly, Thai

participation in the Management Plan would be ideal, but not

as long as the presence of large numbers of Thai military

personnel and equipment in the Preah Vihear area inhibit

access to the site from Thailand. Post strongly recommends

that we once again actively engage both sides in the border

dispute, as we began to do in 2008 (Ref C), but were unable

to sustain given the political upheaval in Thailand.

Withdrawal of troops is the critical first step toward a more

permanent solution to the border dispute and will help avert

further armed clashes.

RODLEY

Written by thaicables

July 21, 2011 at 5:37 am

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