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The Gecko: 20 June 2003

The press corps that flew out with US Secretary of State Colin Powell on his visit to Cambodia thought it was either an interesting twist of fate or someone on the plane's staff with a wry sense of humor when it was announced that the movie to be shown on board was The Quiet American.

They left Phnom Penh for Jordan with a knock-off DVD copy of Matt Dillon's City of Ghosts.

ïï Readers often wonder why the Post doesn't carry more sports news. Two items may help fill the gap. RCAF General Pol Saroeun joined the expatriate Defense Attachés for a round of golf on July 19. He beat everyone with a four over par 76. Good sportsmanship was the loser at a June 8 match between the Bayon Wanderers and a local newspaper team. The game was abandoned after 65 minutes as "too many elbows and feet were flying" according to one "duly ashamed" player.

ïï At the Asean Foreign Ministers meeting one expat journalist asked his own minister [not the American] about some problems back home, to which the minister replied "We don't line people up and shoot them," and then he whispered to an aide "...like they do here."

ïï The art of diplomacy is often spiced with double meanings, ironies, inconsistencies and unfathomable shades of grey.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell, on the flight to Cambodia and in response to a question about the recent demonstrations in Iran, said: "...and the United States has always encouraged peaceful demonstrations for people to express their views, and this has been our policy and will continue to be our policy, and that's that."

Tell that's that to the Cambodian Watchdog Council. They met with the US embassy on June 3 and an embassy official asked them to cancel their "non-violent demonstration" planned for July 18-which they did. This may come from the policy guidance directive: "Let's see if we can tip-toe to and through the elections with our fingers crossed and hope not too much blood is spilled."

And then there's Vietnam. One can't help but wonder if the Vietnamese Foreign Minister felt a twinge of hesitation in signing on to the "consensus-driven" call by Asean for the Myanmar government to release Aung San Suu Kyi from jail. Then again, maybe the foreign office was not aware that on July 18 a court in Hanoi would sentence pharmacist Pham Hong Son to 13 years in jail followed by three years of house arrest for "translating an article about democracy into Vietnamese and posting it on the internet," according to Reporters Without Borders.

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