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N. Korea to train elite troops

N. Korea to train elite troops

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

Kong.

"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.

King

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

capital.

The newspaper described North Korea's decision to arm and train

the Cambodian troops as a bid to secure an ally in Southeast Asia.

North

Korea is embroiled in an international dispute over a suspected nuclear weapons

programme. Pyongyang has refused to permit full inspections of its nuclear

facilities.

A spokesman for the Australian Defense Department was

unavailable for comment on the newspaper report. - Reuters

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