Cambodia's Minister of Information Ieng Mouly said Dec. 24 he was surprised by threats
of "aggressive diplomacy" by Thailand's National Security Council in connection
with Cambodia's claim to the arms cache seized by Thai border police earlier this
"I was surprised by the quote because my suggestion was based on two principles,"
said the minister.
"The first principle is that Thailand recognizes the legitimate Royal Rovernment
of Cambodia; and second, the weapons were given to support the former three allied
parties and two of them now join the Royal Government," Mouly said.
The royalist FUNCINPEC party and non-communist Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party
(BLDP) used to fight shoulder-to-shoulder with the Khmer Rouge against the Vietnamese-installed
Phnom Penh regime up until the signing of the Paris Peace Accords. The alliance with
the Khmer Rouge was subsequently dissolved and both former resistance factions have
joined in a coalition government with the Cambodian Peoples Party (CPP).
On December 24 The Nation carried an article about Thailand's National Security Council
seeking the adoption of some responsive measures vis-a-vis continued criticism that
Thailand still supports the Khmer Rouge.
According to the newspaper, measures included using diplomatic channels to ask Phnom
Penh to stop publicly attacking Thailand and to clarify with the private sector and
the media Thailand's position towards its neighboring countries.
"But if the measures fail to improve the situation, Thailand would have to adopt
what the NSC called 'aggressive diplomacy,'"the Nation reported.
However, Ieng Mouly said the final decision on surrendering the weapons was Thailand's
as it is a sovereign state.
"It's Thailand's policy and we respect it. But, we will also react to any policy
that would damage the interests of Cambodia," Mouly said.
"In logical terms, if Thailand respects Khmers, the weapons should be given
to Cambodia because they were already given to Cambodian factions before the signing
of the Paris peace accords. So, it's normal to hand them over to the Cambodian government"
he reiterated by referring to a report in The Nation on December 15 which quoted
Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai as saying "Cambodia also could claim ownership."
Defense Minister Tea Banh said 10 bridges in central and north-western provinces
were cut off by the Khmer Rouge during the month of December.
A senior Khmer Rouge official in Phnom Penh said the group's aim in doing so was
to thwart the government's ammunition and food re-supplies that would intensify clashes
and loss of life.
"Because when logistic re-supply is disrupted there is less fighting and less
death, so we can avoid fighting by both sides," the KR official said.
But, Tea Banh responded to the comment by saying "To avoid clashes or loss of
life is to keep the trigger locked, is to talk, but not cutting off bridges."
"Such an explanation doesn't make sense at all. Let me ask what those bridges
are for. They are veins of communication," he said.
A military report released on Dec. 24 indicated that in Kampong Cham province on
Dec. 22, 28 Khmer Rouge combatants defected to the government, bringing along 22
The same report said that sporadic fighting between the government and the guerrillas
continued in Siem Reap and Preah Vihear provinces. According to the report, government
troops took over Phum Taseng in Preah Vihear province.