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09PHNOMPENH664 CAMBODIA’S MINISTER OF DEFENSE PREPARES FOR WASHINGTON

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“223512”,”9/3/2009 10:23″,”09PHNOMPENH664″,

“Embassy Phnom Penh”,

“UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY”,

“09PHNOMPENH638”,”VZCZCXYZ0000

PP RUEHWEB

 

DE RUEHPF #0664/01 2461023

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

P 031023Z SEP 09

FM AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1153

INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

RHHJJPI/PACOM IDHS HONOLULU HI PRIORITY

RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

“,”UNCLAS PHNOM PENH 000664

 

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR EAP/MLS

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PREL, MOPS KTIA, CB

SUBJECT: CAMBODIA\’S MINISTER OF DEFENSE PREPARES FOR

WASHINGTON

 

REF: PHNOM PENH 638

 

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: In a September 3 call on Deputy Prime

Minister and Minister of National Defense Tea Banh, the

Ambassador previewed the Minister\’s upcoming travel to

Washington where he will meet Secretary of Defense Gates,

congratulated the Minister on Cambodia\’s diplomacy with

respect to the dispute over Preah Vihear, highlighted the

continued strengthening of military-to-military relations,

and introduced the new U.S. Embassy Defense Attache. Tea

Banh expressed his commitment to reduce troops and help

settle the Preah Vihear dispute peacefully. He also stressed

the importance of Cambodia\’s upcoming Capstone training event

and detailed peacekeeping operations planned for Chad and the

Central African Republic. The Minister rounded out the

meeting by outlining areas of defense reform and continued

engagement. END SUMMARY.

 

Tensions Subside in Preah Vihear

——————————–

 

2. (SBU) In preparation for his upcoming Washington visit,

which will include a meeting with Secretary of Defense Gates,

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense Tea

Banh provided an overview of areas of mutual interest,

specifically noting the calmed situation in Preah Vihear.

Tea Banh detailed the history of the dispute over Preah

Vihear and recent troop reductions in the border area (Ref

A). He stated that both the Thai and Cambodian sides have

drawn back in order to decrease the potential of further

tension. Declaring that \”there is no longer a worry of

conflict,\” Teah Banh said that some troops would remain to

stand guard and maintain the area as normal, but that a large

number of troops is no longer necessary. He indicated that

he is optimistic about further troop reductions and

redeployments away from Preah Vihear in the future. However,

Tea Banh said that the lower levels within the Thai and

Cambodian armed forces still need to meet in order to avoid

small flare-ups.

 

3. (SBU) Decreased tensions with Thailand have resulted in

small numbers of tourists returning to the Preah Vihear

temple. The Ambassador congratulated the Minister on the

restraint and diplomacy required to get to this point, and

noted the need to fully resolve the military and border

situation in order for Cambodia to take full advantage of the

World Heritage site designation and to increase tourism and

development in a very poor area. Tea Banh responded that

both he and the Thai Minister of Defense will meet to discuss

and find solutions to the border issues in order to create an

open area in Preah Vihear for development, trade and

business. He said that Cambodians are already beginning to

move and build houses along a better-understood border, and

he is optimistic that there will soon be a defined border

with Thailand.

 

Increased Military-to-Military Relations

—————————————–

 

4. (SBU) Both the Ambassador and the Minister praised the

strong and growing military-to-military relations between

Cambodia and the United States. Tea Banh specifically

expressed his appreciation of U.S. assistance with the Global

Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI). He stated that his

office is working closely with the Embassy\’s Defense Attache

office in order to prepare for the July 2010 multilateral

Capstone training exercise, which will showcase Cambodia\’s

increased capacity and expertise. Tea Banh also detailed

current and future peacekeeping assistance, stating that

Cambodia\’s PKO work in Sudan has received positive reports.

When asked about publicized future operations in Chad and the

Central African Republic, Tea Banh indicated that there are

some issues to be worked out before Cambodian peacekeepers

can be deployed. He said that thus far, 40 members of the

Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) have been trained and are

prepared for deployment. However, an RCAF observer went to

Chad and based on his report, it was determined that the

total number of required peacekeepers should be increased

from the originally agreed upon 100 to 200. In order for

this to happen, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must initiate

a new MOU for the increased numbers.

 

The Road Ahead

————–

 

5. (SBU) The upcoming meeting between Minister of National

Defense Tea Banh and Secretary of Defense Gates marks an

 

important step forward for both countries. As further

evidence of the improved and growing military-to-military

relations, the Ambassador introduced the Embassy\’s new

Defense Attache, Col. Mark Gillette, noting that the two

countries have an exchange of attaches for the first time in

some decades. Col. Gillette will escort Tea Banh to

Washington, and both will participate in a portion of the

Defense Strategic Review, supported by DoD, prior to meeting

with Secretary Gates. The Minister stated that based on a

recent bilateral defense dialog held in Hawaii, specific

areas for defense reform and continued U.S. engagement

include maritime security, border security, humanitarian

disaster response, and counterterrorism – an area where the

two countries already have close cooperation. Tea Banh

stated he is proud of what the two countries have

accomplished thus far, and said there remains much work to be

done, with reform a key priority.

 

RODLEY

 

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Written by thaicables

July 21, 2011 at 5:56 am

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