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Call for UN to monitor the Thai border

A fresh call for United Nations observers to be placed on the Thai-Cambodia

border to monitor trade and other links with the Khmer Rouge, has come from an

American NGO.

Oxfam America, in a report released last month, said that

ending Thai commercial and military collaboration with the KR was the best way

to bring peace to Cambodia.

It said the international community, despite

its $2.6 billion investment in the UNTAC peace operation in Cambodia, remained

guilty of "tacit acceptance" of a clandestine Thai-KR alliance.

Oxfam

America's report, entitled Cambodia: Still Waiting for Peace, singled out the

United States for scathing criticism for accepting Thai assurances that it does

not assist the KR.

It called for the US to demand independent

corroboration of such assurances, saying: "To fail to do so will mean either

that the US continues willingly to be 'taken for a fool', or that it is willing

to share responsibility for continued war in Cambodia."

The report said,

despite the US' close diplomatic and military links with Thailand, "the State

Department has done nothing in the face of Thailand undermining the largest and

most expensive international peacekeeping operation in history".

The

NGO's Asia Regional Manager, Michael Bedford, said Oxfam believed responsibility

for ensuring an end to any foreign support for the KR lay with the international

community as a whole

But countries such as the US should use their

influence to put pressure on Thailand.

Bedford said the placement of UN

monitors on the border - in line with a request from the Cambodian government

last year - would demonstrate a much-needed international commitment to cutting

outside support for the KR.

The government requested that 30 UN military

observers be placed on the border in May last year, after the KR had re-captured

Pailin.

The request, which came as a team of 20 UN military observers in

Phnom Penh were being phased out, was rejected by the UN Security

Council.

Benny Widyono, the UN Secretary-General's Representative in

Cambodia, said the Security Council agreed to only three observers remaining in

Phnom Penh. That was recently reduced to one observer.

Widyono said the

Cambodian government had not repeated its call for observers on the border, and

had never filed an official UN complaint about Thai support for the

KR.

Oxfam America's report is essentially a compilation of information

from media reports on allegations of Thai complicity with the KR between 1991

and early 1995.

It concludes that there is an overwhelming public record

of evidence that "Khmer Rouge aggression is being funded through cross-border

trade with business interests in Thailand and this illegal support is

facilitated by the Thai military".

Oxfam America criticized a report by

the US secretary of state to Congress earlier this year on the issue, which

concluded that Thailand was moving to stem private and unofficial links with the

KR.

The Secretary's report - ordered by Congress following press reports

of ongoing Thai-KR collaboration - was presented in February as a classified

document, not for public release.

However, according to a declassified

one-page summary of its contents provided to Oxfam, the report said there was no

official Thai government or military contact with the KR.

However, some

Thai military officials still did business with the KR at "a diminished level",

while private cross-border trade continued.

"Unauthorized and occasional

shipments of rice, fuel, medicine and small consumer goods to KR-controlled

areas, much of which probably goes to civilians, still occur," the report

said.

"The Thai government has begun efforts to stop such contacts and

trade," it said.

It added that the logging and gem mining industries were

areas of significant Thai investment and the most important sources of revenue

for the KR, but made no mention of whether Thailand was making efforts to stop

them.

Oxfam America said the US report ignored "credible charges" against

Thailand made by Cambodian army officers, as well as the "uniform judgment of

informed international observers that Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge remain a threat to

Cambodia's peace and development only because of Thailand".

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