110. Editorial Note

In late August 1969 Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield traveled to Cambodia. During his visit Mansfield spoke with Sihanouk for 2 hours, with the Prince dominating the conversation. According to the telegraphic report of their meeting, Sihanouk told Mansfield that the “main threat to Cambodia is presently Vietnamese communism” and he admitted “that North Vietnamese were violating Cambodia’s frontiers, although he did not at first believe U.S. and other reports regarding use of his territory as a sanctuary.” Sihanouk stated it was important to be able to talk to those with whom one disagrees. He had learned this from the break with the United States—Sihanouk interjected that he would never again break relations with the United States—and he explained Cambodia’s official relations with the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese. Sihanouk denied that arms transited through Sihanoukville to the Viet Cong, but he did admit there was arms trafficking within Cambodia in new Chinese weapons captured by Cambodian troops. Sihanouk then raised the issue of U.S. bombing of Cambodia. The relevant extract telegram reads as follows:

Sihanouk pointed out to Senator Mansfield that there were not Cambodian protests of bombings in his country when these hit only VC’s and not Cambodian villages or populations. He declared that much of his information regarding U.S. bombings in uninhabited regions of Cambodia came from U.S. press and magazines. He strongly requested the avoidance of incident involving Cambodian lives.” (Telegram 26 from Phnom Penh, August 26; Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box TS 12, Geopolitical File, Cambodia, Bombing, 1969–1970)

Kissinger also reproduces this extract in White House Years (page 251) as part of his evidence that Sihanouk gave tacit approval to secret U.S. bombing of Cambodia.