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Thai Ambassador: No arms for RCAF

T HE Thai Ambassador has described his country's attitudes and policy toward foreign military aid to Cambodia in an interview with the Post.

Ambassador Sakphip Krairiksh said: "The Thai government believe that giving weapons to the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces is not the most effective way of helping Cambodia solve its problems.

"We believe that any increase in fighting [in Cambodia] will spill over the borders [into Thailand]. It will destroy our villages and wound or kill our people.

"It will create refugees... which will become a big burden to us again. Our policy is that we will not accept them."

At the recently-completed Asean conference hosted by the Thai government, Thai Foreign Minister Prasong Soonsiri reiterated his government's request that lethal aid not be given to Cambodia.

Ambassador Sakphip said: "Although we don't support lethal weapons being given to Cambodia we have nevertheless offered to assist the Cambodian military.

"Thailand is willing to be involved in two major projects. We have written a note to Prince Sirivudh offering Cambodia demining dog teams.

"Secondly we have offered 50 scholarships this year to Cambodian military officers to attend a staff level college in Thailand.

"In addition, we have invited the Ministry of Defense and military commanders to Thailand to observe our use of the military in rural development projects.

"We had a communist insurgency in Thailand all over the country. This insurgency was stronger than the Khmer Rouge is now.

"We were not able to eradicate or eliminate them by force. The only way was to develop the economy. We suggest to the Cambodian government that rural development is the solution, that they promote rural development in the countryside.

"Further, I have talked to both Ministers of Defense and encouraged them to visit Thailand as often as they can as a guest of our Minister of Defense to search for areas of cooperation.

"The bilateral military relationship [between Thailand and Cambodia] is getting better than two months ago.

"At that time there were a lot of verbal attacks through the press, ... there have been many charges that we are continuing to support the KR.

"I continue to ask the Cambodian government for evidence of this. The Thai Government's policy is not to help, not to intervene, not to destabilize the Cambodian government.

"We recognize, not a faction, we recognize the Royal government as the sole legitimate body in Cambodia since the elections.

"I talk to General Wimol [Chief of the Thai Armed Forces] all the time and he has always stressed to me that there are clear instructions from the government to the military in the field not to help or to facilitate business deals with the KR.

"In fact we have allowed the Royal Government of Cambodia to set up checkpoints on our side of the border in order to tax the timber coming out of Cambodia. Some of that timber is coming from KR controlled territory.

"We are willing to work together [with the Cambodian government]. And we should work together instead of going to the press and damaging the feelings of members of the Thai government.

"I have told this government that if they have problems they can call the Prime Minister [of Thailand] directly.

When asked about the Royal government move to outlaw the KR the Thai Ambassador said: "In my opinion outlawing the KR is good.

"It has made clear the position of the Royal Government of Cambodia. It will give [Thailand] a chance to show our sincerity in supporting this government.

"Once it becomes law, we hope the Cambodian government will tell us what they want us to do. We are willing to do anything the Cambodian government suggests, but they need to tell us.

"They should give us a list, so we can start working together. As to KR assets in Thailand the Royal Government needs to let us know what they want us to do."

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