A fresh batch of US diplomatic cables published on Wednesday by WikiLeaks has shed light on the increasing regional tension caused by the Khmer Rouge regime as it entered its third year in power, particularly in Thailand, where patience was thinning over activities along its border.
A cable from May 1978 detailing Admiral Maurice Weisner’s visit with the then Thai Prime Minister Kriangsak Chamanan details Thailand’s unease over China’s support of the Khmer Rouge. He detailed China’s furnishing of Cambodian forces with 122 and 130mm guns, as well as 107 and 120mm rockets.
“[Kriangsak] knew, from shell fragments found in Thailand when the Cambodians have fired across the border, that the Cambodians have new equipment in the border area,” the cable reads.
“Thailand remains calm and tries not to overreact to Cambodian attacks … but Thailand cannot wait around much longer without responding to the attacks.”
Both men admitted to not understanding what Cambodia’s objectives were, but Kriangsak said the Cambodians thought the Thai government supported insurgent groups within Cambodia. The prime minister stated, however, that his government had stopped sponsoring such attacks and only carried out assaults in retaliation to Cambodian aggressions.
“Kirangsak said that Thailand has the military capability to ‘Walk to Phnom Penh. They cannot stop us’,” the cable says.
A cable from June of 1978 describes Laos’ uneasiness with the disputes between Vietnam and Cambodia, along with Thai Foreign Minister Uppadit’s meeting with former Cambodian Ambassador to Laos Sam San.
“Uppadit reiterated to Sam San the [Royal Thai Government’s] desire to work to improve bilateral relations. He noted, however, that the Thai people could not tolerate the continuation of the attacks on the border, and that the RTG would act firmly to protect Thai interests,” the cable says.