U NITED STATES President Bill Clinton has been told that he should stop US aid to
Thailand if cross border dealing between the Thai military and the Khmer Rouge
Senator Craig Thomas - the chairman of the Senate's
subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs - met in Washington with
ambassadors nominated for Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia last
Thomas said he was impressed by all four men, but the one issue
that they were "unable to address to my satisfaction..." were constant
allegations and evidence of Thai-KR links.
Thomas wrote to Clinton saying
that if a significant effort was not made to investigate and stem the trade, as
Thailand has promised to do, then Thomas would call for US aid to Thailand to be
A provision in the US law outlawing the KR calls for the President
to "terminate assistance to any country... that he determines is cooperating,
tactically or strategically, with the Khmer Rouge in military
"Let me note that I greatly value the close relationship
between us and the government and people of Thailand," Thomas wrote to
"However warm or important that relationship... we cannot allow
it to obscure or interfere with what is our equally important dedication to the
principles of democracy taking root in Cambodia.
"I, and I hope my
colleagues, will be watching developments closely," Thomas said.
told Clinton of a history of Thai involvement with the KR, including acting as a
"funnel" for Chinese-supplied arms and, more lately, a US Embassy estimation
from Bangkok that Thai logging concessions amount to $40 million in KR-held
"The Thais have consistently, albeit often disingenuously, denied
any ties to the KR or to the timber trade," Thomas wrote.
"Each round of
denials, however, is soon followed by press reports and concrete evidence to the
Despite denials right up to the Prime Minister, credible
evidence - most lately from the London-based Global Witness group - "...fully
confirm, in my opinion, that the trucks are still rolling across the Thai
The Thais have been greatly angered by persistent reports of
complicity with the KR. The Thai military command recently called for the
withdrawal of the AFP correspondent based in Phnom Penh for writing similar
articles, a statement recorded on the front page of the Bangkok Post.
is thought that cross border trade is continuing despite strong efforts by
Bangkok to rein in and replace corrupt military elements stationed along the
Cambodian border. However, as Thomas noted to Clinton, the total monthly income
to the KR is estimated at between $10 million and $20 million.