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KR, resistance look to border timber sales

KR, resistance look to border timber sales

D RY roads capable of supporting tanks and artillery made the Cambodian government's

offensive this dry season possible, but the Khmer Rouge and Royalist resistance fighters

are apparently hoping the same conditions will allow them to export timber to finance

their guerrilla war.

While Cambodia's northern border with Thailand has been officially sealed since July's

factional fighting, the environmental group Global Witness has discovered that a

road between the resistance-controlled border town of O'Smach and the KR base of

Anlong Veng has been resurfaced.

The road would presumably be used to export 60,000 cubic meters of logs - valued

at $13.8 million - that have been stuck in the Anlong Veng area just 500m from the

Thai border.

The United States' staunch anti-KR policy and the sporadic presence of US officials

monitoring the border opposite KR zones has kept the hardliners from selling the

timber, Global Witness investigator Simon Taylor said.

"It's going to be a hard job for the resistance to get the logs out. The resistance

is linked to the Khmer Rouge, and the American policy is against the Khmer Rouge,

so... the Americans will be putting a lot of pressure on the Thais to keep the border

closed."

But reports of the newly-grated road and a Thai logging firm's movement of saw mill

equipment to the Chong Chom pass opposite O'Smach indicate the rebels have discovered

a way to get the wood out. One source told Global Witness of timber stockpiled at

the border crossing.

"It's Ta Mok's wood basically," Taylor said. "If it has moved out

of Anlong Veng, then the Khmer Rouge are already making money on it."

Although an export ban on raw timber has been in force since the end of last year,

a Global Witness report that the Thai Buntho 948 Co is currently negotiating a deal

with the Royal Government for the export of 100,000 cubic meters of logs indicates

that the ban is not being respected.

"There are so many stories coming across, the feeling is that the Thai border

is a thin skin waiting to break," Taylor said. "[An export ban is] meaningless

without the political will to enforce it."

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