227. Telegram From the Liaison Office in China to the Department of State and the Embassy in Cambodia 1
684. Subject: Contact With Sihanouk. Ref: State 082877.2
- Holdridge met with Phung in Malo’s apartment at 6:15 a.m. Peking time (7:15 a.m. Phnom Penh time) and conveyed two points contained in reftel. Phung was obviously disappointed over U.S. evacuation, and especially when he ascertained that Ambassador Dean would be leaving as well. As to maintaining communications with Sihanouk, he said he would convey message and hoped something could be set up later in Phnom Penh. In meantime he personally would continue to provide a link in Peking.
- Phung then went on to note that he had met with Sihanouk at 2:00 a.m. that same night to discuss the message which Holdridge had provided him with earlier. According to Phung, Sihanouk said that the U.S. plan had come too late, and in addition he, the Prince, had no control over the Khmer Rouge. Sihanouk’s judgment was that having come this close to military victory, the Khmer Rouge would not accept a ceasefire now. Phung had been told by Sihanouk to deliver this response to Holdridge immediately, but had not done so out of reluctance to disturb Malo in the middle of the night.
Phung added that Sihanouk would probably not be traveling to Phnom Penh for some time yet, certainly not in the immediate future.
The rationale presented by Phung for the delay was that Sihanouk would want to assess the general situation in Phnom Penh before returning, but it seems evident that the Prince’s influence with the Khmer Rouge is so weak that he must await their invitation, which may or may not be forthcoming depending on their assessment of his usefulness to them.
- Phung was greatly concerned about the possibility of his role as a contact with the U.S. leaking out. He claimed that Phnom Penh was filled with Khmer Rouge spies, and hoped that his part in recent developments could be kept quiet. We here certainly sympathize with him on this point, and request that if anything can be done at this late stage to safeguard Phung, it be done so immediately.
- Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for East Asia and the Pacific, Box 15, People’s Republic of China, State Department Telegrams, To SECSTATE, Nodis (5). Secret; Nodis; Flash.↩
- In telegram 82877 to Beijing, April 11, Kissinger instructed Bush to inform Phung of the American evacuation from Phnom Penh. (Ibid., Box 14, People’s Republic of China, State Department Telegrams, From SECSTATE, Nodis, 6)↩