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09PHNOMPENH224 CAMBODIA HOLDS ITS POSITION IN PREAH VIHEAR DISPUTED AREA; APRIL 3 AFTERNOON CLASH ENDS IN CEASE-FIRE

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“200603”,”4/3/2009 12:07″,”09PHNOMPENH224″,

“Embassy Phnom Penh”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,

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

PHNOM PENH 000224

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR EAP, P, D, IO

NSC FOR E. PHU

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/03/2019

TAGS: PREL, MOPS, PGOV, TH, CB

SUBJECT: CAMBODIA HOLDS ITS POSITION IN PREAH VIHEAR

DISPUTED AREA; APRIL 3 AFTERNOON CLASH ENDS IN CEASE-FIRE

 

REF: A. BANGKOK 867

B. PHNOM PENH 221

C. STATE 78884 (GUIDANCE ON BORDER DISPUTE)

 

PHNOM PENH 00000224 001.2 OF 002

 

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

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: Late-morning negotiations between Thai and

Cambodian military field commanders broke down and resulted

in resumed fighting at about 1:55 p.m. on April 3, according

to multiple Cambodian sources. Council of Ministers

Secretary of State Phay Siphan stated that Thai artillery

opened up on Cambodian positions in the Eagle Field area near

the Preah Vihear UNESCO World Heritage site after Cambodian

troops were not withdrawn, as the local Thai commander had

requested in morning talks. Fighting lasted about 90

minutes. Post cannot confirm Cambodian casualties including

early reports of two Cambodian troops dead. The Ambassador

contacted Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) commander in

chief General Pol Saroeun late on April 3 to urge maximum

restraint, continued dialogue, and disengagement of troops in

the disputed Preah Vihear border area. An uneasy cease-fire

remains as Cambodians hold their positions. Plans for

bilateral Joint Boundary Commission (JBC) technical talks on

April 6-7 in Siem Reap are still going forward according to

the lead Cambodian negotiator. END SUMMARY.

 

Morning Clash After Surprise Encounter

————————————–

 

2. (C) A Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) source told

Pol/Ec Chief that Cambodian troops entered the Eagle Field

early on April 3 and were surprised to find armed Thai troops

in an area of the disputed territory previously considered to

be unoccupied. Gen. Pol Saroeun told Ambassador that the

incident began about 6:00 a.m. and that the Cambodians asked

the Thai to leave. When the Thai troops refused, the

Cambodians tried to \”force them out,\” at which point the Thai

shot at Cambodian soldiers. Gen. Pol Saroeun said that two

Thai soldiers were killed in this morning clash.

 

3. (C) Council of Ministers Secretary of State Phay Siphan

said that the two local commanders held talks later in the

morning of April 3, but that at about 11:30 the Thai insisted

that Cambodians holding the Eagle Field position be

withdrawn. The Cambodian commander left the talks and the

troops remained in their positions.

 

Afternoon Clash of Heavier Arms

——————————-

 

4. (C) At 1:55 p.m., Thai positions on the Phnom Trop

(Eggplant Mountain) position overlooking the Eagle Field

opened up with an 106 mm artillery barrage, followed by 60 mm

mortar rounds, said Phay Siphan. In another disputed

location east of the Preah Vihear temple Thai troops used M79

grenades, he said. The two sides stopped fighting some time

after 3:00 p.m., he said, noting that he received reports

from sources on the ground. Phay Siphan could not confirm

Cambodian casualties, which open sources have put at between

two and four dead.

 

5. (C) MFA Asia One Deputy Director Hos Sereythonh noted that

the Thai commenced the afternoon exchange of arms. Late in

the day, the MFA was still contemplating next steps,

including calling in the Thai ambassador. As of the morning,

Prime Minister Hun Sen was still committed to traveling to

the ASEAN 3 summit on April 10-12, an MFA source reported;

however, he cautioned that the afternoon events could change

the situation.

 

Ambassador to Pol Saroeun: Show Maximum Restraint

——————————————— —-

 

6. (C) The Ambassador called RCAF CINC Gen Pol Saroeun late

in the day to emphasize the need for restraint on the

Cambodian side, noting that the USG was engaging the Thai

side with a similar message (Refs A, C). Gen. Pol Saroeun

took on board the message, stating that the fighting had

ceased for now and that discussions between local commanders

 

PHNOM PENH 00000224 002.2 OF 002

 

were ongoing. Gen. Pol Saroeun added, \”We don\’t want to be

fighting but maybe the Thai will force us into it

(fighting).\” The Ambassador reiterated her message of

restraint, adding that the talking should continue and that

there should be a separation of forces.

 

COMMENT:

——–

 

7. (C) The Eagle Field area has been relatively calm since

the last clash of arms on October 15. Since Thai troops on

March 30 entered into an area hitherto left unoccupied,

tensions have been escalating. Both sides lay claim to the

areas in which the troops are currently facing off and the

diplomatic plan of action to address the issue is well

developed, and could take another step forward in the planned

talks in Siem Reap. The greatest barrier to development of

that diplomatic plan is the inability to remove troops

entirely from the area in dispute.

RODLEY

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Written by thaicables

July 21, 2011 at 5:33 am

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