212. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Australia1

76054. 1. After careful consideration here, we are today requesting GOA to transmit to Cambodian Government note and evidence set forth below concerning VC/NVA use of Cambodian territory. Transmission of note would be accompanied by oral statement, as contained para 8 below, that USG would not make public this summary.

2. Intended purpose is to convey to RKG on confidential basis clear picture of massive evidence available to us on this subject. We intend to position note and material in ICC and other capitals for possible later transmission depending on developments. Septels will cover this in light of timing of actual transmission.

3. By agreement with GOA Embassy here, we and they are suggesting that transmission be via Bangkok, to avoid excessive strain on GOA communications facilities to Phnom Penh. Bangkok should therefore transfer note and supporting evidence to appropriate stationery and get in touch with GOA Embassy there to put this in their hands. GOA Embassy Bangkok will in turn be receiving appropriate instructions from Canberra.

4. Exact timing of delivery not yet finally determined. We have today discussed factors that point in our minds to going ahead soonest and have urged GOA in this direction. However, no final Canberra decision has yet been made.

5. Saigon should hold this information to itself for time being. We anticipate instructing you to inform GVN at time of final delivery. However, consistent with intended confidential basis, we believe you should consider how this can best be done to minimize danger of GVN leak. Please give us your recommendations. We would be inclined to have you go personally to Thieu and/or Do stressing that any hope for effectiveness depends in our judgment on preserving confidential basis. (FYI: We of course recognize that Sihanouk may so act as to compel future publicity, but we will cross this bridge when we get to it. End FYI.) Needless to say, this whole action should be restricted to tightest need-to-know circle, and all who are necessarily brought in should be cautioned in strongest terms against any leak.

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6. Canberra should immediately convey full contents this cable at appropriate levels. GOA Embassy already has all elements of this message.

7. Following is text of note to be delivered RKG:2

Begin text: “The United States has the honor to request the Embassy of Australia to deliver the following information to the Royal Cambodian Government.

The United States has regretted the impairment of its relations with Cambodia. Despite differences, however, the United States continues to respect the neutrality, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Cambodia.

A particularly distressing problem dividing the United States and Cambodia arises out of incidents in the Cambodia-South Viet-Nam border area. The United States wishes to emphasize that American forces operating in South Viet-Nam are engaged in conflict with Viet Cong-North Vietnamese forces committing aggression against South Viet-Nam. The American forces have no hostile intentions toward Cambodia or Cambodian territory. The root cause of incidents affecting Cambodian territory is the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese presence in the frontier region, and their use of Cambodian territory in violation of the neutrality of Cambodia.

The United States has offered to cooperate in seeking a solution to this problem. Following the suggestion of His Royal Highness Prince Sihanouk for more effective action by the International Control Commission, made most notably in December of 1965, the United States has consistently supported such action and has indicated its willingness to consider sympathetically any request for specific assistance to this end.

At the time, the Royal Cambodian Government suggested that the International Control Commission might undertake continuing and effective review of activities in the port of Sihanoukville, and it was further suggested that the Commission might be expanded so that it could more effectively monitor the border areas between Cambodia and South Viet-Nam.

In addition, the United States has supported an international conference on Cambodia, and it has also suggested direct, informal talks with Cambodian officials in order to seek an alternative remedy.

The United States is deeply concerned over the critical issue of Viet Cong-North Vietnamese use of Cambodian territory and it wishes to emphasize once more its willingness to cooperate in any reasonable method of controlling this problem.

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The Royal Cambodian Government may not be aware of the extent of Viet Cong-North Vietnamese use of its territory, and the United States therefore wishes to provide it with the attached summary of some of the evidence available. The documents and interrogations from which this evidence has been compiled are fully available if desired. Additional evidence received in more recent periods is being assessed, and may be presented to the Royal Cambodian Government at a later time.

The United States believes that the Royal Cambodian Government will share its concern over Viet Cong-North Vietnamese use of neutral Cambodian territory. It is in the spirit of assisting the Royal Cambodian Government in its efforts to prevent violations of its neutral territory that this evidence is presented.” [End text.]

8. Apart from transmitting the note, Deschamps will be instructed to make the following oral statement on delivery to RKG:

“The United States Government has made clear to my Government that the note and attached evidence that I am now presenting is being provided on a confidential basis to the Royal Cambodian Government. This is in keeping with the spirit of the note as stated in its last paragraph.

Inevitably, the United States Government will have to continue to respond to press questions by general statements that it has communicated with the Royal Cambodian Government over a long period on this subject. Moreover, individual reports bearing on this matter may continue to receive some publicity through circumstances often beyond the control of US authority. Nonetheless, the purpose of the United States Government in presenting the full summary of the evidence to the Royal Cambodian Government is as stated in the last paragraph of the note, and the United States Government does not intend to make public the summary of evidence attached to the note.”

[Here follows evidence cited in paragraph 1 above to be presented to the Cambodian Government in conjunction with the note. The remaining portion of the cable totals 20 pages.]

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 32–1 CAMB–VIET S. Secret; Priority; Exdis. Drafted by Bundy, cleared in substance with Rostow at the White House, and approved by Rusk.
  2. Text also printed in American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1966, pp. 1039–1040.