UNITED States Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, on a two-day visit to
Cambodia, repeated the US position that giving lethal military aid to Cambodia
has not been ruled out.
"The possibility of [lethal aid] will be
contingent upon further reform of the Cambodian military," Talbott told a press
conference on Jan 29.
He pledged continued non-lethal aid to the Royal
Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF), such as food, medicine and
Talbott, believed to be the highest-ranking US official to
visit Cambodia since the Sihanouk regime in the 1960s, had an audience with King
Norodom Sihanouk during his Jan 28-29 visit.
He said the King had agreed
that vigorous political and economic development was the best way to ensure the
demise of the Khmer Rouge.
Talbott praised the Cambodian government's
commitment to building democracy and did not believe the country would slip
Winston Lord, assistant secretary of state for Asia and the
Pacific, who accompanied Talbott, said some progress has already been made in
the structural reform of the Cambodian armed forces, including the reduction of
the number of generals from 2,000 to several hundred.
However, Lord said
a lot of work remained to be done, including eliminating "ghost soldiers" whose
pay was collected by real soldiers.
Meanwhile, the US officials' visit
prompted an angry response from the KR, which in a Feb 1 radio bulletin said the
US was responsible for prolonging the war by providing military aid to