US embassy cable - 98BANGKOK4204

THAI MFA COMMENTS ON TEA BANH, FOC, AND THE KHMER ROUGE

Identifier: 98BANGKOK4204
Wikileaks: View 98BANGKOK4204 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Bangkok
Created: 1998-03-31 00:08:00
Classification: SECRET
Tags: PREL MOPS KDEM CB TH
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
O 310008Z MAR 98
FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8838
INFO AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH PRIORITY 
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI//FPA// PRIORITY
USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 
AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 
AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 
AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 
AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON PRIORITY 
AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 
AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PRIORITY 
AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PRIORITY 
AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 
AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 
AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM PRIORITY 
AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV PRIORITY 
AMEMBASSY BONN PRIORITY 
AMEMBASSY MADRID PRIORITY 
ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS PRIORITY
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 BANGKOK 004204 
 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/30/08 
TAGS: PREL, MOPS, KDEM, CB, TH 
SUBJ: THAI MFA COMMENTS ON TEA BANH, FOC, AND THE KHMER 
ROUGE 
 
REF: A) BANGKOK 4005   B) STATE 54663   C) BANGKOK 4115 
D) STATE 55803 
 
1.(U) CLASSIFIED BY ACTING POL SECTION CHIEF MARC NICHOLSON. 
REASON: 1.5(B) AND (D). 
 
2.(U) ACTION REQUESTED -- SEE PARA 18. 
 
SUMMARY 
------- 
 
3.(S) ON 27 MARCH, MFA DIVISION I (INDOCHINA) DIRECTOR 
NOPADOL GUNAVIBOOL BRIEFED POLOFF ON DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER 
SUKHUMBHAND'S 24 MARCH MEETING WITH CAMBODIAN DEFENSE 
MINISTER TEA BANH AND MINISTER OF STATE SOK AN.  NOPADOL 
DESCRIBED THAI AND CAMBODIAN VIEWS ON THE CEASE-FIRE IN 
NORTHWESTERN CAMBODIA, AMNESTY FOR FUNCINPEC COMMANDERS, AND 
THE JULY 26 ELECTIONS.  HE SAID HUN SEN WOULD VISIT THAILAND 
IN EARLY MAY.  NOPADOL ALSO DESCRIBED THE SCHEDULE FOR THE 
UPCOMING FRIENDS OF CAMBODIA (FOC) MEETING, AND HE STRESSED 
THAI SENSITIVITY ABOUT THE POSSIBLE DETENTION OF KHMER ROUGE 
LEADERS.  END SUMMARY. 
 
4.(C) THE PRIMARY PURPOSE OF NOPADOL'S BRIEFING WAS TO 
DISCUSS SUKHUMBHAND'S MEETING WITH TEA BANH.  NOPADOL 
DESCRIBED THE 90-MINUTE SUKHUMBHAND-TEA BANH MEETING AS 
"RESTRICTED," ATTENDED ONLY BY CPP MINISTER OF STATE SOK AN, 
THAI MFA PERMANENT SECRETARY SAROJ CHAVANAVIRAJ, AND THAI 
AMBASSADOR TO CAMBODIA DOMDEJ BUNNAG.  PRESENT AT NOPADOL'S 
BRIEFING WERE POLOFF AND EMBOFFS FROM AUSTRALIA, GERMANY, 
NEW ZEALAND, AND SINGAPORE.  NOPADOL'S COMMENTS SUPPLEMENT 
THE READ-OUT PROVIDED BY SUKHUMBHAND TO THE DCM (REF A). 
 
TIMING OF HUN SEN'S VISIT 
------------------------- 
 
5.(C) NOPADOL SAID THAT THE PRIMARY PURPOSE OF TEA BANH'S 
VISIT WAS TO PREPARE FOR HUN SEN'S TRIP TO BANGKOK, WHICH 
WOULD TAKE PLACE IN THE FIRST WEEK OF MAY.  THE RTG HAD 
REQUESTED AN EARLIER DATE, BUT HUN SEN WOULD CONTINUE TO BE 
IN MOURNING FOR THE DEATH OF HIS MOTHER UNTIL THE END OF 
APRIL. 
 
MOVING FORWARD WITH THE ELECTORAL PROCESS 
----------------------------------------- 
 
6.(C) NOPADOL SAID THAT SOK AN HAD CONFIRMED THAT THE 
CAMBODIAN ELECTORAL LAW'S RESIDENCY PROVISIONS (AN OBSTACLE 
TO RANARIDDH'S PARTICIPATION) WOULD BE AMENDED BY THE 
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY BY 26 MARCH.  NOPADOL NOTED THAT THIS HAD 
NOT YET OCCURRED AS PROMISED.  HE SAID THE CAMBODIANS HAD 
ALSO SAID THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY WOULD: 
 
- FACILITATE THE WORK OF THE NATIONAL ELECTION COMMITTEE 
(NEC); 
 
- ALLOW FUNCINPEC MEMBERS AND OTHER CAMBODIANS ABROAD TO 
PARTICIPATE IN THE ELECTION; 
 
- DROP THE PROVISION REQUIRING CANDIDATES TO PRODUCE VOTER 
CARDS WHEN REGISTERING THEIR CANDIDACIES;  AND 
 
- REDUCE THE PARTY REGISTRATION DEADLINE FROM 120 DAYS 
BEFORE THE ELECTION TO 80 DAYS. 
 
CONTRACTING ELECTORAL ASSISTANCE 
-------------------------------- 
 
7.(C) NOPADOL SAID SOK AN HAD COMMENTED ON THE RGC'S 
CONTRACT WITH THE CICCONE FIRM FOR ELECTORAL MANAGEMENT 
SYSTEMS.  SOK AN HAD SAID THAT THE CONTRACT WAS NOT INTENDED 
TO OBVIATE THE NEED FOR FOREIGN AID, BUT THE RGC NEEDED A 
BACK-UP SERVICE-PROVIDER IN CASE AID WAS NOT FORTHCOMING. 
ON 25 MARCH, THE THAIS RELAYED THIS STATEMENT TO PRINCE 
RANARIDDH, WHO RHETORICALLY ASKED WHAT WOULD PROMPT THE RGC 
TO DOUBT THAT AID WOULD BE FORTHCOMING, GIVEN THAT VARIOUS 
GOVERNMENTS HAD ALREADY SIGNED AID AGREEMENTS.  RANARIDDH 
ALSO DENOUNCED CAMBODIAN INTERIOR MINISTER SAR KHENG'S 
STATEMENT THAT HE HAD BEEN UNAWARE OF THE CONTRACT WITH 
CICCONE. 
 
8.(C) NOPADOL SAID THAT THE RTG FELT THAT THE CONTRACT HAD 
MOST LIKELY BEEN SEEN BY THE CPP AS A WAY TO PRESSURE DONORS 
TO RELEASE MONEY, BUT HE WITHHELD FURTHER JUDGMENT AS HE HAD 
NOT YET SEEN THE CONTRACT AND HE BELIEVED THE RGC DID INDEED 
REQUIRE TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE FOR THE ELECTIONS. 
 
THAI ELECTORAL ASSISTANCE 
------------------------- 
 
9.(C) IN THE 24 MARCH MEETING, SAROJ HAD SAID THAT THE ASEAN 
COUNTRIES, IN THE MIDST OF THEIR ECONOMIC CRISIS, WOULD BE 
ABLE TO PROVIDE THE RGC WITH TECHNICAL BUT NOT FINANCIAL 
ASSISTANCE.  SUCH ASSISTANCE WOULD MOST LIKELY BE ORGANIZED 
ON A BILATERAL BASIS AND INVOLVE THE TRAINING OF PERSONNEL, 
BUT NOPADOL STRESSED THAT THE RGC HAD NOT YET INDICATED WHAT 
TYPE OF ASSISTANCE IT REQUIRED.  SOK AN REPORTEDLY SAID HE 
WOULD CONSULT WITH HUN SEN REGARDING THE ISSUANCE OF 
INVITATIONS TO ASEAN TO SEND ELECTION OBSERVERS AND 
REGARDING CONSULTATION WITH THE NEC TO DETERMINE WHAT SORT 
OF ASSISTANCE WOULD BE REQUIRED.  NOPADOL ESTIMATED THAT 
THAILAND MIGHT PROVIDE 10 ELECTION OBSERVERS, WITH ALL OF 
ASEAN PROVIDING 75 OF THE ANTICIPATED TOTAL OF 300-350. 
 
CEASE-FIRE TALKS 
---------------- 
 
10.(C) NOPADOL SAID THAT SUKHUMBHAND HAD STRESSED THAT THE 
FOUR PILLARS OF THE JAPANESE PEACE PLAN COULD PROCEED 
SIMULTANEOUSLY, E.G. RANARIDDH COULD RETURN BEFORE FULL 
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE CEASE-FIRE AND TROOP REINTEGRATION. 
SUKHUMBHAND HAD URGED TEA BANH TO ONCE AGAIN DISPATCH 
GENERALS TO MEET WITH FUNCINPEC ARMED RESISTANCE COMMANDER 
LTG NHEK BUN CHHAY, AND HE (SUKHUMBHAND) SAID THE RTG WAS 
"READY TO FACILITATE THESE TALKS."  TEA BANH AGREED THAT IT 
WAS IMPORTANT TO FULLY IMPLEMENT THE CEASE-FIRE IN ORDER 
THAT DISPLACED PERSONS COULD RETURN TO CAMBODIA AND 
RANARIDDH WOULD NOT BE DISQUALIFIED FROM RUNNING IN THE 
ELECTION ON THE BASIS OF FUNCINPEC CONTROLLING ITS OWN ARMED 
FORCES. 
 
11.(C) WHEN THE RTG RELAYED TEA BANH'S COMMENT TO RANARIDDH, 
THE PRINCE REPLIED THAT THE RESISTANCE FORCES IN QUESTION 
WERE RCAF SOLDIERS (LOYAL TO BUT NOT ORGANIZATIONALLY 
MEMBERS OF FUNCINPEC) UNDER THE COMMAND OF RCAF GENERALS 
APPOINTED BY THE KING.  RANARIDDH THEN UNDERMINED HIS OWN 
ARGUMENT (ABOUT CONTROL OVER RESISTANCE FORCES) BY POINTING 
OUT THAT HE HAD BEEN THE FIRST TO ORDER A UNILATERAL CEASE- 
FIRE. 
 
AMNESTY FOR FUNCINPEC COMMANDERS 
-------------------------------- 
 
12.(C) NOPADOL SAID THAT SUKHUMBHAND HAD ASKED IF HUN SEN 
WOULD OBJECT TO AMNESTY FOR FUNCINPEC COMMANDERS NHEK BUN 
CHHAY AND SEREY KOSAL.  SOK AN REPLIED THAT HE HAD NOT 
THOUGHT ABOUT THAT MATTER, BUT, IN A SUBSEQUENT LUNCH 
MEETING, TEA BANH SAID HE FORESAW NO DIFFICULTY WITH 
AMNESTY.  (NOTE: IT APPEARS AS OF 30 MARCH THAT THE KING HAS 
DECLINED TO GRANT AMNESTY GIVEN OBJECTIONS RAISED BY HUN 
SEN.  END NOTE.) 
 
SUKHUMBHAND NOT TO ACCOMPANY RANARIDDH 
-------------------------------------- 
 
13.(C) AFTER CONCLUDING HIS DISCUSSION OF THE TEA BANH 
MEETING, NOPADOL SAID THAT SUKHUMBHAND WOULD NOT ACCOMPANY 
RANARIDDH BACK TO CAMBODIA ON 30 MARCH.  HE SAID THAT 
SUKHUMBHAND HAD MADE HIS INITIAL OFFER DURING A TIME WHEN 
RANARIDDH'S AMNESTY WAS UNCERTAIN, AND THE PRINCE APPEARED 
TO FACE ARREST UPON RETURN. 
 
SCHEDULE FOR THE 19 APRIL FOC MEETING 
------------------------------------- 
 
14.(C) NOPADOL SAID THAT THE 19 APRIL FOC MEETING WOULD 
FOLLOW THE SCHEDULE OF THE GROUP'S LAST GATHERING IN MANILA. 
HE SAID INDONESIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ALATAS WOULD ARRIVE IN 
THE AFTERNOON OF 18 APRIL, IN TIME FOR A TROIKA MEETING THAT 
EVENING.  THE FOC MEETING WOULD TAKE PLACE AT THE REGENT 
HOTEL ON THE MORNING OF 19 APRIL AND END AROUND 1330 HRS, 
FOLLOWED BY A TROIKA PRESS CONFERENCE THAT AFTERNOON. 
(NOTE: IT APPEARS THAT A/S ROTH WOULD NEED TO DEPART NO 
LATER THAN 1345 HRS IN ORDER TO CATCH A 1515 HRS FLIGHT. 
END NOTE.) 
 
15.(C) NOPADOL SAID THAT WHILE THAILAND WOULD BE HOSTING THE 
MEETING, THE PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT WOULD ONCE AGAIN CHAIR IT 
(AND, ACCORDINGLY, INVITATIONS WOULD BE SENT OUT BY 
PHILIPPINE EMBASSIES).  HE SAID THE MFA HAD MADE A BLOCK 
BOOKING AT THE REGENT AND REQUESTED TO BE INFORMED OF EACH 
GOVERNMENT'S PARTICIPANTS SOONEST.  HE NOTED THAT THE 6 
MARCH FOC COMMUNIQUE HAD CALLED FOR THE 19 APRIL MEETING TO 
TAKE PLACE AT A "HIGH LEVEL," AND HE SEEMED SURPRISED THAT 
MOST EMBOFFS BELIEVED THEY WOULD BE REPRESENTED AT THE SAME 
LEVEL AS IN PREVIOUS FOC MEETINGS.  (NOTE: THE GOJ WILL 
REPORTEDLY BE REPRESENTED BY VICE FOREIGN MINISTER KOMURA. 
END NOTE.) 
 
THE KHMER ROUGE 
--------------- 
 
16.(S) AFTER THE GROUP MEETING, POLOFF AND NOPADOL PRIVATELY 
DISCUSSED REPORTS OF LARGE-SCALE KHMER ROUGE DEFECTIONS. 
NOPADOL SAID THAT HE BELIEVED THE FIGHTING HAD ENDED BY THE 
AFTERNOON OF 27 MARCH AND THAT THE KHMER ROUGE LEADERS WOULD 
NOT NEED TO CROSS INTO THAILAND.  HE SAID THAT HE DOUBTED 
THE RGC CONTROLLED ANLONG VENG, AND HE ADDED THAT HE HAD 
HEARD THE SPLIT WITHIN THE KHMER ROUGE HAD ORIGINATED OVER 
LOGGING (NFI).  PER REF B, POLOFF STRESSED THE USG INTEREST 
IN SEEING THE KHMER ROUGE LEADERS DETAINED UNTIL THEY COULD 
BE TRIED IN AN APPROPRIATE VENUE.  (NOTE: AS REPORTED IN REF 
C, THE DCM HAD ON THE SAME DAY CONVEYED OUR CONCERN TO 
SUKHUMBHAND.  END NOTE.)  NOPADOL RESPONDED THAT IT WOULD BE 
IMPORTANT TO KEEP THE DETENTION OF K.R. LEADERS SECRET WHILE 
THEY REMAINED IN THAILAND AND THAT THE RTG WOULD WANT THEM 
MOVED OUT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. 
 
17.(S) BASED ON REF D, POLOFF SPOKE TO NOPADOL ON 30 MARCH 
TO REASSURE HIM THAT THE USG WAS EXPLORING (WITH VARYING 
DEGREES OF FORMALITY) THE OPTION OF KHMER ROUGE TRIALS IN 
SEVERAL COUNTRIES.  NOPADOL SAID THAT HE HAD CHECKED WITH 
HIS MILITARY SOURCES AND, TO THE BEST OF HIS KNOWLEDGE, THE 
KHMER ROUGE LEADERS WERE STILL IN CAMBODIA. 
 
ACTION REQUESTED 
---------------- 
 
18.(U) PLEASE ADVISE SOONEST OF U.S. ATTENDEES AT THE 19 
APRIL FOC MEETING AND THE TOTAL NUMBER OF HOTEL ROOMS 
REQUIRED.  UNLESS OTHERWISE ADVISED, WE WILL PLAN ON U.S. 
ATTENDEES STAYING AT THE REGENT AS PART OF THE THAI BLOCK 
BOOKING. 
 
ITOH 

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