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09PHNOMPENH831 CAMBODIA RECALLS AMBASSADOR TO THAILAND BUT EMPHASIZES OPEN DIPLOMATIC CHANNELS, GOOD SECURITY, CALM BORDER

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“233514”,”11/6/2009 10:57″,”09PHNOMPENH831″,

“Embassy Phnom Penh”,”CONFIDENTIAL”,

“09BANGKOK2746|09PHNOMPENH811|09PHNOMPENH815”,

“VZCZCXRO1114

OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH

DE RUEHPF #0831/01 3101057

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

O 061057Z NOV 09

FM AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1346

INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 0007

RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 2579

RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 2409

RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 0724

RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 3312

RUEHDE/AMCONSUL DUBAI PRIORITY 0001

RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HI PRIORITY”,

“C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PHNOM PENH 000831

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR EAP/MLS, IO, DRL

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/06/2019

TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PHUM, KTIA, MOPS, ELAB, CB

SUBJECT: CAMBODIA RECALLS AMBASSADOR TO THAILAND BUT

EMPHASIZES OPEN DIPLOMATIC CHANNELS, GOOD SECURITY, CALM

BORDER

 

REF: A. PHNOM PENH 815

B. PHNOM PENH 811

C. BANGKOK 2746

 

PHNOM PENH 00000831 001.2 OF 002

 

Classified By: DEPUTY CHIEF OF MISSION THEODORE ALLEGRA, FOR REASONS 1.

4 (B, D)

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: The Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC)

recalled its Ambassador to Thailand You Ay on November 5,

emphasizing reciprocity in response to Thailand\’s earlier

removal of the Thai Ambassador to Cambodia — noting

specifically that Cambodia was willing to restore full

relations as soon as the Thai Ambassador returned to Phnom

Penh. The RGC defended the appointment of former Thai Prime

Minister Thaksin Shinawatra as an economic advisor to Prime

Minister Hun Sen (Ref A) and reiterated international legal

arguments refuting Thai claims regarding Thaksin\’s

extradition. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the

Council of Ministers Sok An said in a televised news

conference that the mutual recalls would have no effect on

Cambodia\’s overall relations with Thailand, especially the

good bilateral economic ties. Mindful of Phnom Penh\’s

violent anti-Thai riots in 2003, RGC officials highlighted

normalcy and said they would keep people safe and sound. As

the Independence Holiday weekend approached on November 6,

Border checkpoints remained open, Thai Embassy staff felt

safe, and the situation near Preah Vihear was calm. Thaksin

is reportedly in Dubai and, if he does decide to visit

Cambodia, indications are it will be for a short stay only.

END SUMMARY.

 

An Ordinary Appointment and a \”Strange\” Protest

——————————————— —

 

2. (SBU) DPM Sok An\’s press conference, carried live by many

national television stations November 5, cited as \”strange\”

the protest by Thai leaders to the appointment of Thaksin as

PM Hun Sen\’s economic advisor (Ref A). Recounting that Thai

Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban had said that it was

an ordinary matter for the Cambodian PM to choose his

personal advisors, Sok An noted that Hun Sen many years ago

had appointed current Korean President Lee Myung-bak to a

similar role. On the other hand, the recall of ambassadors

would not affect people-to-people relations between

Cambodians and their Thai neighbors, said Sok An. He

emphasized that relations along the border would remain good

and that the diplomatic tiff would not affect strong

bilateral economic relations. No mention of Thaksin\’s status

as a fugitive from Thai justice came up in the news

conference. A day earlier, on November 4, the RGC had issued

a statement on Thaksin\’s appointment and the international

legal norms that could justify the denial of an extradition

request based on its underlying \”political\” nature. Sok An\’s

aide noted that the DPM\’s aim in the press conference was to

cool down the situation and ensure public safety.

 

Mixed Reactions; Concern for Residents\’ Security

——————————————— —-

 

3. (SBU) Ou Virak of the Cambodian Human Rights Center told

Radio Free Asia that the appointment of Thaksin appeared to

be related to Cambodia\’s dispute with Thailand over the Preah

Vihear border issue. He speculated that relations would

return to normal in time. Political Scientist and Royal

University of Phnom Penh Professor Ros Chantrabot agreed, and

told us that Hun Sen\’s bold move was calculated to press the

Abhisit government for a solution to the Preah Vihear issue,

after which the \”problem of Thaksin\” would go away. Much

Cambodian reaction to the diplomatic spat centered on the

fate of over 60,000 legal Cambodian laborers believed to be

in Thailand (9,371 legalized and 52,635 with work passes) in

addition to tens of thousands more on the parallel economy.

Sam Rainsy set the figure at 200,000 and told the local press

he was concerned for their protection if tensions continued

to escalate. The labor ministry office handling overseas

workers was taking a wait-and-see attitude before issuing

more work documents to those going to Thailand.

 

Business as Usual at Thai Embassy

———————————

 

PHNOM PENH 00000831 002.2 OF 002

 

4. (SBU) Contacts at the Royal Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh

said that the Embassy remained open for business as usual,

with all staff present under the direction of the current

Charg. He said that general communication with the RGC

remains normal, noting for example that he and the Cambodian

MFA,s Thai Desk Officer have been in regular contact since

the recall. He said that the embassy had not been given

guidance on how long Ambassador-designate Prasas

Prasavinitchai would remain in Bangkok, repeating the Thai

MFA,s statement that the RGC would have to choose between

dealing with Thaksin or the Thai government.

 

5. (C) Thai Embassy officials and our own U.S. Embassy mobile

patrol confirmed an upgraded Cambodian police presence

November 5 in front of the Thai Embassy until approximately

10:00 PM. The Thai Embassy officials also emphasized they

had not requested any special security support from the RGC,

and that the embassy had no major security concerns, although

it had increased some of its internal security procedures as

a precaution. (NOTE: We understand evacuation procedures via

Thai military have been reviewed. END NOTE.) Poloff

confirmed that the Cambodia police had since withdrawn from

the Thai embassy, and that the situation on the street is

calm. The Ambassador polled other mission chiefs the evening

of November 5, who indicated their perception that the RGC

was serious about upholding its Vienna convention obligations

to protect the Thai diplomatic personnel and premises.

 

Border Calm

———–

 

6. (SBU) Council of Ministers Spokesman Phay Siphan said

late on November 6 that the situation in the vicinity of the

Preah Vihear border dispute remained calm and that all

cross-border checkpoints remained open. Embassy Commercial

Assistant independently confirmed with border traders that

checkpoints were open. Separately, LTG Chea Dara, Royal

Cambodian Armed Forces Deputy Commander-in-Chief told the

Khmer-language press that he was in telephone contact with

his Thai counterpart in charge of Thailand\’s Military Region

2 and that they had agreed that soldiers were not the means

to solve the border dispute, which should be settled by

diplomatic means. However, Chea Dara repeated the commonly

heard phrase that Cambodian military would not allow the Thai

to cross even one millimeter onto Cambodian territory. Srey

Deuk, commander of Preah Vihear forces also noted the

situation remained quiet, although his troops were on alert.

RODLEY

Written by thaicables

July 22, 2011 at 9:14 am

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