CANBERRA - Politically isolated North Korea will arm and train 10,000 elite
troops for the Cambodian government, according to an Australian diplomatic
cable, The Australian newspaper reported.
The confidential cable said
North Korea had agreed to assist in raising, training and equipping two Royal
Guard divisions for the Cambodian army, The Australian reported from Hong
"Strength of the division would be in excess of 5,000 troops," the
newspaper quoted the cable as saying.
The cable said senior members of
Cambodia's defense forces visited the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, in late
March to make arrangements, the newspaper said.
The cable also said that
China, once a major military backer of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge, had ruled out
supplying arms directly to the Phnom Penh government.
The newspaper said
the cable was sent from the Australian Embassy in Phnom Penh to Australia's
Defense Department in Canberra in March.
His Majesty King Norodom
Sihanouk has long had close personal ties with North Korean President Kim
Il-sung. He spent years in exile in Pyongyang during the 1970s.
Sihanouk returned to Phnom Penh last week after treatment for cancer in Beijing,
visiting Kim Il-sung in Pyongyang en route home from the Chinese
The newspaper described North Korea's decision to arm and train
the Cambodian troops as a bid to secure an ally in Southeast Asia.
Korea is embroiled in an international dispute over a suspected nuclear weapons
programme. Pyongyang has refused to permit full inspections of its nuclear
A spokesman for the Australian Defense Department was
unavailable for comment on the newspaper report. - Reuters