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Monday, April 06, 2009

Nixon, U.S. blamed for Cambodia genocide

File photo of President Richard Nixon dated March 10, 1971. (UPI Photo/Darryl Heikes/Files)

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia, April 6 (UPI) -- A notorious former Khmer Rouge prison commander on trial for war crimes says U.S. backing for Cambodia's right-wing government set the stage for genocide.

Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, testified during his trial on charges that he oversaw the torture and execution of 17,000 victims at the S-21 prison camp that Pol Pot's communist Khmer Rouge movement would have died off in 1970 had not U.S. President Richard Nixon backed right wing military strongman Lon Nol, The Times of London reported.

When the autocratic Prince Norodom Sihanouk was deposed in a 1970 coup the leftist Khmer Rouge was in disarray but the overt backing of Lon Nol by Nixon and U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger as the Vietnam War raged nearby generated a backlash against the government and rescued Pol Pot's movement from oblivion, Duch reportedly testified.
"I think the Khmer Rouge would already have been demolished," The Times quoted him saying. "But Mr. Kissinger and Richard Nixon were quick (to back Lon Nol) and then the Khmer Rouge noted the golden opportunity."

The reign of the Khmer Rouge from 1975-79 saw the deaths of 1.7 million Cambodians through execution, starvation and overwork, historians say.

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Thai, Cambodian PMs to confer on border tensions during ASEAN summit

BANGKOK, Thailand's Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Monday he would discuss with his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen about defusing tensions along the two countries' border on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) plus 3 summit, Thai News Agency reported.

The issue won't be raised at the three-day summit, which will start on Friday in Pattaya; instead the two countries will have a negotiation between themselves, Abhisit said.

The situation at the border has steadily improved and normalcy should be soon restored as concerned officials of both countries have met and discussed ways to cool down the situation, he said.

The latest border clashes between Thailand and Cambodia broke out last Friday when soldiers of the two countries clashed twice near the ancient Preah Vihear temple, leaving casualties on both sides.

Thailand and Cambodia have earlier conducted a few round of negotiations which involved the militaries and foreign ministries from the two sides to solve the border dispute regarding areas around the temple, a UNESCO world heritage site.

The International Court of Justice ruled the temple belonged to Cambodia more than 40 years ago. But border dispute over areas around the temple has remained a fuse in the two countries' relationship.

The Thai-Cambodian border has never been fully demarcated, in part because the border is littered with landmines left during the Indochina war between 1960s and 1970s.
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