Thursday, April 01, 2010

1950-1959 Highlights 60 Year of Diplomatic Relation

1950: State Department recognizes Cambodia
1950: First U.S. diplomat presents credentials to King Sihanouk on July 11
1953: Cambodia declares its independence
1955: U.S. assistance program begins focusing on infrastructure and education
1958: Eisenhower and Sihanouk visit to the United States •. 1959: Inauguration of National Road4

The US Legation opened in Phnom Penh on November 14.
Operations were initially conducted from the renowned Hotel Le Royal.

Though the United States had established consular offices in neighboring Vietnam in the late 1800s, there was no official U.S.presence in Phnom Penh until 1950. Contact between the United States and Cambodia in the 19th and early 20th centuries was limited to that of missionaries, adventurers, big-game hunters and scientists, with some accounts-like Frank Vincent Jr.'s book, The Land of the White Elephant, which chronicles his journey from Bangkok to the temples of Angkor Wat by boat in the 1870s­capturing the American imagination. With the export of goods including kerosene, timber, rice, and flour into French Indochina (of which Cambodia had been a part since 1887), the United States had also formed some early regional economic ties.
The post-World War II era saw a distinct shift in relations between the two countries, with Mao Zedong's rmies nearing victory in China and the nationalist, anti-colonialist Viet Minh forces gaining against the French in northern Vietnam. As U.S. foreign policy increasingly focused on preventing the spread of Communism in Southeast Asia, friendly ties be­tween the United of Communism in Southeast Asia, friendly ties be­tween the United States and Cambodia took on a new importance.
Cambodia, along with Vietnam and Laos, had comprised French Indochina since the late 19th century; during World War II, much of the territory was occupied by Vichy-backed Japanese troops. The French resumed control after 1945, but by then the Khmers had become anxious for their independence. On February 7, 1950, the French Assembly granted the three Indochinese countries autonomy within the French Union; shortly thereafter, the United States recognized the new Cambodian government, with the young

King Norodom Sihanouk as its head. By May, President Harry Truman approved $20 million in economic and military aid to Cambodia, an amount that would increase significantly over the decade.
The United States established its first direct diplomatic relationship with Cambodia on June 29, 1950, with the appointment of Donald R. Heath as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary. Heath presented his credentials to King Sihanouk on July 11, 1950. The US Legation opened in Phnom Penh on November 14. Operations were initially conducted from the renowned Hotel Le Royal until a Legation office and U.S. Information Service library were established in a new location. The Legation was raised to Embassy status on June 25, 1952, at which point Heath became the first U.S.Ambassador to Cambodia.

Secretary of State John Foster Dulles visited the Royal Palace in February 1955.
Simultaneously, the United States entered into a mutual defense assistance agreement with Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, which included $7.8 million in economic and military assistance to be distributed over four years. Nong Kimny, Cambodia's first minister to the United States, on his first visit to America, expressed Cambodia's "deep gratitude" for U.S. assistance during his meeting with President Truman. (As a further gesture of appreciation, King Sihanouk sent the President a rare white elephant. The first U.S. Charge d' Affaires to Cambodia, Don V. Catlett, is most remembered for managing the daunting' task of shipping the animal to Washington.)
After intense negotiations between King Sihanouk and the French government-with the United States often acting as mediator­Cambodia declared its full independence on November 9, 1953. But it would not be until the Geneva Conference the next year that the French would fully cede authority. Throughout the talks, the United States actively supported Cambodia's bid for autonomy.
Shortly after the Geneva Accords, Robert McClintock became Ambassador to Cambodia, presenting his credentials to the King on October 2, 1954. The Embassy continued to grow, relocating to a larger space to accommodate its expanding staff.
With the King taking the lead, the now fully independent country of Cambodia was staunchly committed to maintaining its neutrality, and Sihanouk cultivated friendships with both western and communist powers. In light of Ho Chi Minh's communist government in North

Vietnam and fear that Cambodia's armed forces were ill equipped to handle a possible communist insurgency, the United States began working with the Cambodian government to expand U.S. military assistance in the country. Details of a military training program, which included the establishment of a Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG), were worked out by Ambassador McClintock and Assistant Secretary of State Walter S. Robinson, with Secretary of State John Foster Dulles visiting Phnom Penh (the highest level official visit at the time) in February 1955 to meet with King Sihanouk and discuss the plan. The military defense agreement was signed in May. Simultaneously, Ambassador McClintock focused efforts on securing the gradual withdrawal of French troops from Cambodia.

Bilateral relations between the two countries received another significant boost with the establishment in 1955 of a $50-million-per-year assistance program, which sought to promote economic and social progress; strengthen indepedence; Improve and expand free public education; increase the quantity and quality of agricultural yields; Improve public health, security, and infrastruc­ture; and modernize the armed forces. The aid program was larger in size and scope than the combined support from all other countries and international organiztions, with the United States providing $493 million in assistance by 1963.

American Ambassador William Trimble, with Cambodian Head of State Prince Norodom Sihanouk, cuts the ribbon at the inauguration ceremonies of the model elementary school at Stung Treng, one of fourteen built in various provinces by American Aid.

U.S. assistance trained teachers and helped build and equip elementary, secondary, and specialist schools across many fields. U.S. funding established the country's first Primary Teachers Training Center in Kampong Kantuot, as well as 14 elementary schools and five secondary school buildings. Several Cambodian students were also sent to the United States on scholarships to study agriculture, public health, industrial arts, and engineerIng.
Other projects included the construction of health centers, pediatric facilities, and a police academy, along with extensive expansion and improvement of Cambodia's infrastructure, which included the repair of 800 miles of roads and 43 bridges. A highlight of these efforts was the Khmer­-American Friendship Highway, a 140-mile-Iong road that would link Phnom Penh with the newly  built port at Sihanoukville, along Cambodia's coast. The $25-million construction was the largest single cooperative aid project, with American and Cambodian laborers working side-by-side

Meanwhile, changes were taking place on the Cambodian political scene. In March 1955, King Sihanouk abdicated the throne to form the Sangkum political party and stand for election later that year. The Prince, as he was now known, handily won the September election and took the post of Prime Minister.
In October] 956, Ambassador McClintock completed his tour and Carl W. Strom was appointed as the next U.S. Ambassador. He presented his credentials to the Prince on December 7, 1956 and remained in the post until March 1959. One of Ambassador Strom's key positions was to protect Cambodia's sovereignty in the face of increasing aggression from Thai and Vietnamese forces, with which Cambodia had a long history of border skirmishes.
Though ties were strengthening between the United States and Cambodia, Sihanouk's position of neutrality began to complicate the relationship. The Prince had repeatedly extended a friendly hand to the People's Republic of China, visiting it and other Communist countries in 1957, during which he secured economic aid. To exacerbate matters-and amid rising tensions with the pro-western governments of Thailand and South Vietnam-Prince Sihanouk recognized the People's Republic of China in July 1958, despite American rejections. Ambassador Strom was temporarily recalled, but Prince Sihanouk, facing an increasingly unstable environment at home, sought to repair relations and accepted an invitation to visit the United States. His itinerary would include stops in Washington, D.C., New York City, Detroit, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Upon arriving at Los Angeles International Airport in September, the Prince told the press:
"We haven't forgotten that the United States of America was one of the first nations to recognize our country and provide it with sympathy and aid. Since our first steps of independence, we have taken some rather significant steps forward ... this progress was facilitated by your constant friendship and generous aid. If Cambodia can surmount the immense difficulties that shadow the dawn of its independence, it is due, in large part, to the United States. The Khmer people know this and will not forget it."
The Prince's visit caused quite a stir in diplomatic circles, particularly following the Cambodian-themed parties he organized in New York and Washington that included a traditional Khmer dance recital given by Princess Bopha Devi, Prince Chakrapong and dancers from the Royal Cambodian Ballet.

 Mr. Richard Daley, Mayor of Chicago, welcomes Prince Norodom Sihanouk. (1958)

 The Washington Post and Times-Herald called him "the most fabulous party-giver to date", adding that guests "raved over the decor (a Cambodian garden), the dancers and the glittery costumes."
In Washington, as an "appreciation for all the aid your country has given mine," Prince Sihanouk presented President Eisenhower with a 12th-century solid granite Angkorean Buddha, which still stands in the National Gallery today. Sihanouk was also received by Secretary Dulles, to whom the Prince reiterated his commitment to maintaining Cambodia's neutrality. Dulles reaffirmed U.S. commitment to Cambodia's total independence.

Prince Norodom Sihanouk hosts a dinner to honor U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and his wife at the Cambodian Embassy. (1958)
The visit was a highpoint in bilateral relations during the 1950s, with Ambassador Strom commenting, "I was very happy when I learned that the Prince would travel to better know the U.S. and the American people. I know that the visits with President Eisenhower and Secretary Dulles were very productive. I hope that they will allow more Cambodians to acquire a better understanding of the United States. I am certain that a better mutual knowledge cannot but reassure our friendly relations."

Prince Norodom Sihanouk visits the historic Thomas Jefferson Monticello estate.

Prince Norodom Sihanouk addresses American students in San Francisco.

The decade would close on a high note: On April 23, 1959, William C. Trimble presented his credentials to the Prince; he would become one of the most successful early Ambassadors to Cambodia. Plans were also initiated to build the first official Embassy building. In July, Secretary of the Interior Fred A. Seaton traveled to Cambodia to inaugurate the recently completed Khmer-American Friendship Highway.

The road, now known as National Road 4, is to this day viewed as a symbol of the friendship between the United States and Cambodian governments. Markers at either end of the road bear the following words from Prince Sihanouk and President Eisenhower:

Prince Norodom Sihanouk, U.S. Secretary of Interior Fred Seaton, and Ambassador Trimble inaugurated the U.S. - . Cambodian Friendship road linking Phnom Penh with Sihanoukville on July 22, 1959.

"This is a highway of friendship, built through the cooperative efforts of Americans and Khmers who have worked in a spirit of liberty and fraternity toward the goal of economic independence of this country." - Prince Sihanouk
"This highway, built by joint efforts of Cambodian and the United States of America, is the symbol of the friendship of the peoples of our two countries, and of our mutual desire for a free, independent prosperous Cambodia." - President Eisenhower
Speaking in 1961 and looking back on a decade of cooperation, Ambassador Trimble said, "It was a decade of remarkable achievement. ... In these 10 years, this ancient yet modem nation has been laying the foundations essential for continued progress and prosperity. The Cambodian people are vigorously engaged in strengthening and extending these foundations, in an atmosphere of liberty and security."

1990 - 1999 Highlights 60 Year of Diplomatic Relations

1991: Prince Norodom Sihanouk returns to Cambodia after 13 years of exile
1991: The United States restores diplomatic relations with Cambodia, ends economic sanctions, and resumes development assistance
1992: UNTAC takes over administration of Cambodia 1993: Cambodia holds its first democratic election
1998: Pol Pot dies, marking the end of the Khmer Rouge

When the 1990s began, Cambodia was still a country divided by civil war, yet by the end of the decade it would finally see an end to nearly 30 years of armed conflict. The country would reach several milestones during the period: it would hold its first democratic elections, it would witness the demise of the Khmer Rouge as a military and political force, and it would welcome the return of Prince Norodom Sihanouk to Phnom Penh after 13 years in exile.
U.S. relations with Cambodia improved steadily over the course of the 1990s, culminating in the reestablishment of diplomatic relations and the re- instatement of U. S. development assistance. These changes came about largely because of major shifts in the geopolitical landscape and persistent negotiations by all of the parties with a stake in Cambodia's future.
In late 1989, the Berlin Wall fell, effectively ending the Cold War and creating space for a breakthrough in Cambodia. On January 2, 1990, U.S. Secretary of State James Baker asked the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - the United States, Great Britain, France, China and the Soviet Union - to convene on the Cambodia issue. A series of meetings followed in New York and Paris. The U.S. position in these talks was that the UN should have authority over Cambodia during a transition period that would precede national elections and the formation of a new government.
The first meeting took place on January 15 in Paris. John Bolton, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations, and Richard Solomon, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, presented a chronology for transferring authority to the UN and preparing for elections.
All five countries involved in the talks agreed to a plan that would see Prime Minister Hun Sen's government retain control of its technical agencies but transfer administration of its ministries to the UN. At a second meeting in New York in February, the five permanent members discussed disarming the various warring factions, but a peace deal remained elusive.
In March 1990, the UN unveiled the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC). It would be the largest and most ambitious UN peacekeeping operation up to that point, with an estimated price tag of $1.5 bi II ion. The plan laid out general outlines for an election, and it included the stipulation that refugees must be present in Cambodia to vote.
Meanwhile, a major debate was taking place in the u.s. Congress about President George H. W. Bush's policy toward Cambodia. Representative Chester Atkins, a Democrat from Massachusetts, and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, a Democrat from Maine, criticized the Bush policy of supporting the non-communist resistance. The Congressmen contended that supporting the resistance groups was immoral because they were part of a coalition that included the Khmer Rouge.
Atkins took his argument to a national audience on a special ABC News report by Peter Jennings on April 26, 1990. During the program, Atkins made the case that the United States was tolerating the Khmer Rouge and that this policy could result in the communist rebels returning to power. "We're still fighting the Vietnam War, and this is the last battle of that war, and if we have to use the Khmer Rouge as a pawn in that we'll use them," he said. "We don't appreciate that we're being used by the Khmer Rouge rather than the other way around."
The report created a storm in political circles and the American public, with both The New York Times and The Washington Post running editorials condemning the Bush policy.
Seizing the momentum, in June Atkins proposed an amendment to cut all aid to the anti­government resistance and instead provide $10 million in support of peace talks.
Representative Stephen Solarz, a Democrat from New York long engaged in the Cambodia issue, argued against the amendment, contending that no U.S. support had reached the Khmer Rouge. A large majority of members of the U.S. House of Representatives agreed and voted down the amendment.
Regardless, the U.S. Senate entered the debate. Senator Mitchell and Senator John Danforth, a Republican from Missouri, demanded that the anti-government resistance be removed from Cambodia's UN seat, and that the United States start providing humanitarian aid to Cambodia, open talks with the Phnom Penh government, and state publicly that the Khmer Rouge should have no role in Cambodia's future. A petition that the senators created containing these demands collected more than 60 signatures in Congress.
As a result of this public pressure, the administration reexamined and, ultimately, changed its position. On July t 8, 1990, Secretary Baker announced at a news conference that the United States would do everything it could to ensure that the Khmer Rouge never returned to power in Cambodia. In addition, Secretary Baker said that the United States would begin providing aid to Cambodia outside of the border refugee camps, open dialogue with Hun Sen and Vietnam, and reverse its policy of supporting the anti­government resistance occupying Cambodia's UN seat.
This shift in U.S. policy set the stage for a final settlement in August 1990. On August 27 and 28, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council drafted a framework document that called for all parties to endorse a Cambodian Supreme National Council (SNC) that would have Prince Sihanouk as its head and would represent the various factions. It also called for a ceasefire and laid out guidelines for an election. The anti­government resistance and Hun Sen accepted the framework at a meeting in Jakarta in September. However, a cease fire did not occur in practice.
In February 1991, China announced that it would resume military aid to the Khmer Rouge. The United States, in an effort to assure the international community that it would not tolerate the return of Pol Pot to power, suspended all aid to the non-communist resistance because of its cooperation with the Khmer Rouge.
In June 1991, the SNC and the five permanent members of the Security Council met again but still could not convince the Khmer Rouge - who continued to initiate military offensives against government troops from their strongholds along the Thai border - to accept a peace settlement. The next month, the SNC met in Beijing and agreed to stop receiving arms from foreign sources and to allow the UN to monitor a tentative ceasefire.
The long-awaited diplomatic breakthrough finally occurred in October 1991. At what was dubbed the Paris Conference, all parties signed an historic peace accord. Under the agreement, UNTAC would take charge of the resettlement of 350,000 Cambodian refugees along the Thai border; disarmament of the various factions; preparations for a democratic election; and re-establishment of government institutions.
With the agreement in place, the following month proved to be a momentous one for Cambodia. Sihanouk returned to the country on November 14 after 13 years in exile. He rode from the airport into Phnom Penh in a 1963 Chevrolet Impala convertible with Hun Sen as a large crowd lining the road cheered and waved flags. That month, the city celebrated its first water festival- one of the biggest celebrations on the Khmer calendar ­since 1969.
On November 11, the United States opened a liaison office in Phnom Penh and appointed Charles H. Twining as U.S. Representative. The United States also announced that it would end economic sanctions and begin providing aid to Cambodia for the first time in 15 years. By 1992, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) would re-open its permanent mission to Cambodia, and the agency's total budget for the decade would reach $264 million.
With the establishment of a full-scale mission, USAID focused on rebuilding roads destroyed during 30 years of fighting and meeting the basic humanitarian needs of the Cambodian people. Improved health and education services emerged as additional key concerns. U.S. assistance also paid for 30% ofUNTAC's budget and supported UNTAC's mandate of establishing a freely elected government.
By 1992, the full UNTAC presence was in place. Leading the mission was Yasushi Akashi, a senior UN diplomat who was in charge of 16,000 soldiers and 5,000 civilians. Two of these civilian advisors, supervised the opening of Cambodia's first free press since 1972, with newspapers appearing in both Khmer and English. They also created Radio UNTAC, a popular source of unbiased information in Khmer.
The chief goal ofUNTAC was to prepare for the upcoming election. The two main contenders were the royalist FUNClNPEC and the CPP.
As the country's first national election approached, the Khmer Rouge sensed that it would not fare well, and so it boycotted the vote and threatened Cambodians who went to the polls with violence. They also began abducting UN personnel involved in election preparations.
Despite the violence, in May 1993, Cambodians turned out in large numbers to seize their first chance at participatory democracy. A remarkable 90% of the population voted, surpassing even the most hopeful of predictions.
FUNCINPEC received 45% of the vote, while the CPP received 38%. Prince Sihanouk announced that he was forming an interim government with Hun Sen and his son Prince Norodom Ranariddh as Deputy Prime Ministers. Although Ranariddh and the United States objected to the plan, two weeks later a government structure emerged in which the CPP and FUNCINPEC shared power, with two minor parties also participating.
In September, the newly formed Constituent Assembly approved a constitution, and Sihanouk was named King. He appointed Ranariddh as First Prime Minister and Hun Sen as Second Prime Minister. UNTAC had accomplished its mission of administering democratic elections and, thus, its mandate ended.
On September 24, 1993, the United States and the Kingdom of Cambodia established full diplomatic relations. The U.S. Mission was upgraded in status to a full Embassy, and on May 17, 1994, U.S. Representative Charles H. Twining presented his credentials as U.S. Ambassador.
Although a new government was in place, fears again surfaced in 1994 that the Khmer Rouge would re-emerge as a force in Cambodia. In response, the United States sent advisors to assist the Cambodian military, and the United States also protested Thailand's continued support of the Khmer Rouge. That same year, the U.S. Congress passed the Cambodian Genocide Justice Act, which officially endorsed a trial to hold Khmer Rouge leaders accountable for their crimes.

The American flag is raised at the newly opened embassy after diplomatic ties between the United States and Cambodia are restored.

Although the Khmer Rouge continued to worry the international community, U.S. assistance was a major factor in slowly weakening the rebels. According to many experts, the U.S. focus on building and refurbishing roads helped undermine the Khmer Rouge because it ended the isolation of populations living in areas the rebels controlled.
The highest-profile of these road projects was the reconstruction of National Road 4, which was originally built by the United States in the 1950s and ran from Phnom Penh to the country's only deep-water port, Sihanoukville. U.S. assistance also upgraded Highway 10 to Pailin, a Khmer Rouge stronghold, spurring trade in the area. In 1996, Khmer Rouge units rebelled against Pol Pot after he ordered people living in the area to stop trading with outsiders. There were signs that the movement was losing its resolve.
Although the Khmer Rouge continued to carry out military campaigns, its members were beginning to defect to the government. The highest-profile of these defections occurred in 1996, when Ieng Sary, former Foreign Minister under Pol Pot, defected and in return was granted control of Pail in as provincial leader. Another Khmer Rouge leader, Son Sen, also began negotiating with the government about a defection. Unfortunately for him, Pol Pot got wind of his plan and ordered him and his family executed.
On March 28, 1996, Kenneth M. Quinn presented his credentials as U.S. Ambassador. Quinn had been a Foreign Service Officer in Indochina during the war, and in the mid-I970s he was one of the first outside observers to document the existence and brutal nature of the Khmer Rouge.
In 1997, the situation in Cambodia- and U.S.­Cambodian relations - took a turn for the worse. On March 30, several grenades exploded at a rally for opposition politician Sam Rainsy, killing 16 and wounding more than 100. One of the wounded was an American, Ron Abney. As a result of the injuries to the American, the FBI launched an investigation into the attack but was unable to identify the perpetrators.
In June, fighting broke out between troops loyal to Hun Sen and Prince Ranariddh. The reasons for the conflict were complex and it is not possible to say with certainty who fired the first shot. Prince Ranariddh had sent one of his generals to meet
with Pol Pot in the hope of securing his defection, and Hun Sen had accused the Prince of colluding with the Khmer Rouge, which ratcheted up tensions between the two sides. u.s. officials at the time believed that neither side wanted an armed conflict, but the United States was compelled to evacuate its staff and temporarily suspend aid.
Ambassador Kenneth Quinn presenting his credentials to His Majesty King Sihanouk in a ceremony at the Royal Palace on March 28, 1996.
With the 1998 national election on the horizon, the United States helped Cambodia prepare by supporting election monitoring organizations that fielded over 22,000 monitors nationwide. Cambodians went to the polls on July 26, 1998, with more than 93% of all registered voters participating. The CPP won the majority of votes, although it failed to win the two-thirds majority necessary to form a new government.
Tensions remained high and political violence occurred sporadically throughout a four-month deadlock. Then, on November 30, the CPP and FUNCINPEC party formed a coalition government, with Hun Sen as the sole Prime Minister. The National Assembly and a newly formed Senate began operating.
That same year, government forces began their final assault on what was left of the Khmer Rouge.
On April 15, 1998, Pol Pot died of natural causes; his movement, which had inflicted so much misery on Cambodia and its people, perished with him. As the decade came to a close, the United States restored bilateral development aid. Kent M. Wiedemann presented his credentials as U.S. Ambassador on August 31, 1999. Thirty years of civil war had finally ended, and Cambodians entered the new millennium hopeful for the future and ready to rebuild their country.

Ambassador Kenneth Quinn visits a former Khmer Rouge stronghold in Phnom Vor, Kampot Province.

1980 - 1989 Highlights 60 Year of Diplomatic Relation

u.s. humanitarian aid alleviates suffering in refugee camps along the Thai border
United States imposes sanctions on the Vietnamese-backed government in Phnom Penh
150,000 Cambodian refugees settle in the United States
1984: The Killing Fields wins three Academy Awards 1989: Vietnamese troops withdraw from Cambodia

Cambodia began the 1980s devastated and exhausted from nearly four years of Khmer Rouge rule. The country was divided, with a Vietnamese-backed government in charge of Phnom Penh and much of the of the countryside, and a coalition of anti-government groups ­including remnants of the Khmer Rouge - dug in near the border with Thailand. u.S.-Cambodian relations during the decade were colored by continuing Cold War realities, the Sino-Soviet split, and improving U.S. relations with China and ASEAN.
At the start of the 1980s, very ,little of Cambodia's infrastructure remai~ed intact. Few roads, schools or hospitals had survived Khmer Rouge rule, and most civil servants and educated people had either died or fled the country.
Famine was rife. Food stocks were dwindling due to disruptions in the harvest cycle caused by the invasion of Vietnamese troops, 150,000 of whom would remain in Cambodia for most of the decade. Some 300,000 Cambodian refugees lived in UN-administered camps along the Thai border, but only 10% were given refugee status, meaning the vast majority would spend the decade in limbo.
International development groups, responding to the misery of the camps, poured into the border area to begin administering aid. The United States contributed $15 million per year in humanitarian assistance through organizations such as UNICEF and the International Committee for the Red Cross. As early as 1981, this aid began to have an impact on conditions in the camps, with the malnutrition rate among children falling from 50% to 2.5% in less than a year.
U.S. policy throughout the decade was to end Vietnamese military involvement in Cambodia and replace the Vietnamese-backed People's Republic of Kampuchea (PRK) government with one that represented the will of the people. To that end, the United States, under the Reagan and Bush administrations, supported political and popular resistance to the PRK government, which was headed by Khmer Rouge defectors.
As the PRK attempted to rebuild the state institutions lost under Khmer Rouge rule, aid streamed into Cambodia along Cold War lines. The Soviet Union, Vietnam and other communist countries supported the PRK government with an estimated $100 million in aid per year, while the United States and much of the West imposed economic sanctions on the PRK government, choosing instead to focus aid on the border camps.
The anti-government resistance along the border was composed of three groups, which officially joined together in 1982 to create the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea (CGDK). The largest of these was the Khmer Rouge, which received military aid from China through Thailand. Although critics charged that U.S. humanitarian aid was unintentionally reaching the Khmer Rouge, the United States denied this.
"It bears repeating - one can't say it often enough - that we give no support of any kind to the Khmer Rouge," Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Paul D. Wolfowitz said at the time.
The United States did directly support the two other groups, dubbed collectively the non­communist resistance, with non-lethal aid. Prince Norodom Sihanouk headed the pro-royalist National United Front for an Independent, Neutral, Peaceful and Cooperative Cambodia (FUNCINPEC), while Son Sann, a Prime Minister in the 1960s, headed the Khmer People's National Liberation Front (KPNLF).
Beginning in 1979, and continuing throughout the 1980s, the United States - along with China, ASEAN and others - voted to allow the anti­government coalition to hold Cambodia's seat at the United Nations. The United States argued that the PRK government was illegitimate since it was imposed by a foreign invasion, and it was consistent with international law to seat the predecessor government.
Despite continued u.s. government involvement in Cambodia, Americans knew little about what had happened there after 1975, when the last of the U.S. presence left the country. A movie released in 1984 changed all of that and catapulted images of Pol Pot's Cambodia - the labor camps, the child soldiers, the executions ­into the American consciousness.
The Killing Fields depicted the true story of the relationship between New York Times reporter Sydney Schanberg and his Cambodian stringer, Dith Pran, as they covered the war between Lon Nol and Khmer Rouge forces in the mid-1970s. In the film as in real life, Schanberg manages to escape Cambodia after the Khmer Rouge took Phnom Penh, but Pran is captured and is sent to successive labor camps in the countryside, an ordeal he manages to survive. The film won three Academy Awards. As a result of its popularity and emotional power, American charities raised millions of dollars in support of victims of the Khmer Rouge.
Americans also began to encounter survivors of the Khmer Rouge in their cities and neighborhoods. Throughout the 1980s, the U.S. government settled 150,000 Cambodian refugees in cities across the country. Large Cambodian­American communities took root in places such as Long Beach, California and Lowell, Massachusetts. As countless immigrants to the United States had done before them, Cambodian­Americans adapted to the way of life in their new home while retaining their distinct cultural identity.
Meanwhile, back in Cambodia the stalemate between the PRK and the anti-government resistance groups showed no sign of resolution. Fighting between the two sides reached a sort of equilibrium, with the insurgency advancing east from the border region during the wet season, and PRK and Vietnamese troops reclaiming lost ground during the dry season. Despite the continued fighting, the Cambodian economy was gradually recovering, due largely to the reemergence of small-scale trading. In addition, Cambodians were reviving traditional family and Buddhist practices lost during the Khmer Rouge. The United States remained committed to supporting the non-communist resistance groups. In February and March of 1985, U.S. Representative Stephen Solarz, a Democrat from New York with a keen interest in developments in Cambodia, attempted to change the nature of U.S. support for these groups. Solarz proposed a $5 million package of overt, non-lethal aid; direct U.S. support for the groups up to that point had been covert and non-lethal, at $12 million per year.
On May 15, the Senate approved a version of Solarz' proposal. The House of Representatives then voted to pass the legislation in July, and President Reagan signed the bill on August 8, 1985. For the first time, U.S. non-lethal aid to the non-communist resistance would be overt, reaching a total of $15 million over the next three years.
As U.S. aid to the non-communist resistance increased in size and visibility, the Vietnamese government began to realize that it could no longer afford its costly occupation of Cambodia. Convinced that the PRK could resist a Khmer Rouge takeover without outside help, Vietnam announced in 1988 that it was planning to withdraw its forces from the country.
In February 1989, negotiations were held in Indonesia. Following the meeting, the PRK announced that Vietnam would withdraw by the end of September 1989, even if a political agreement was not reached. Negotiations continued at a conference in Paris in June 1989; although hopes remained high, the participants still did not reach a settlement.
On September 21, 1989, Vietnam began its final withdrawal of troops from Cambodia. However, Cambodia remained divided, and the United States joined the international community in a final push to end the conflict. In October 1989, Representative Solarz conferred
with Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans about administering the country and holding elec­tions. The following month, Evans presented his plan, which included significant input from Solarz and Prince Sihanouk.
Evans' proposal called for the UN to provide interim authority until national elections could be held. The stage was set for the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia - the most expensive peacekeeping effort undertaken by the UN - and Cambodia's first democratic elections.

1970 - 1979 Highlights 60 years of diplomatic relations

1970: Prince Sihanouk ousted and Lon No1 takes over; Cambodia begins fighting the communists with U.S. support
1973: U.S. Congress ends military assistance to Cambodia 1975: The Khmer Rouge takes Phnom Penh; U.s. Embassy staff evacuated
1975-1979: Up to two million Cambodians die under the Khmer Rouge
1979: Vietnam invades Cambodia and topples Pol Pot

Prince Sihanouk's efforts throughout the previous decade to keep Cambodia out of the war in Vietnam and walk a tightrope between superpowers had failed. In March 1970, while he vacationed in France, the National Assembly voted unanimously to withdraw its confidence from Prince Sihanouk.
Lon Nol would become the new head of state and oversee the drafting of a new constitution. In October 1970, he proclaimed the Khmer Republic, with the removal of Vietnamese Communists from Cambodian lands at the center of its agenda.
The Prince and the communist powers-the governments of North Vietnam, the Soviet Union and China-claimed that the CIA was behind the coup, while President Nixon and Henry Kissinger, then National Security Advisor, expressed surprise at the take-over, stating the United States was in no way involved. Many scholars now believe that the United States knew that Sihanouk might be overthrown, but whether or not it had a hand in the coup has never been certain. The exiled Prince would go on to form a government in Paris called the Gouvernement Royal d'Union Nationale de Kampuchea, or GRUNK, while encouraging Cambodians to join the rising Khmer Rouge party.
The United States military had become increasingly suspicious of the Prince and viewed him as an obstacle to its objectives in Southeast Asia. The trafficking of weapons and supplies for Vietnamese communists through the Cambodian port of Sihanoukville had long been an issue of concern, as were Sihanouk's overtures to the North Vietnamese. Given these issues, the new regime in Cambodia was viewed as a positive change in the recently re-established diplomatic relations between the United States and Cambodia. The United States was quick to recognize and back Lon Nol's government.
Initially, the U.S. Embassy staff remained small, with the primary task of resuming dialogue with Cambodia; it was composed of Charge d' Affaires Lloyd M. Rives, a military attache, an administrative officer, a political officer, two secretaries, and a communicator. On September 15, 1970, Ambassador Emory C. Swank presented his credentials in Phnom Penh. He would remain in the post for three years.
The United States and Cambodia now shared the same goal: to get communist Vietnamese troops out of Cambodia. To this end, Lon Nol entered into an entente with the South Vietnamese, ending Cambodia's long-time position of neutrality. In doing so, Cambodia officially began to fight the communists.
But Lon Nol would not be the strong military leader Cambodia needed. Within the first few months of his rule, his Force Armee National Khmere, or FANK, would suffer major casualties and setbacks, desperately looking on as more than half of Cambodia fell to the North Vietnamese army.
On April 30, 1970, President Nixon informed a shocked American public that U.S. and South Vietnamese troops were entering Cambodia in order to defeat the over 40,000 Viet Cong and North Vietnamese soldiers that had amassed in the east of the country. Few people outside of the President's circle knew about the plan, including Secretary of State William P. Rogers, who only five days earlier had testified to the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations that the United States had no intention of intervening in Cambodia.
The strategy, known as the Cambodia Campaign or Cambodia Incursion, had several aims: to upset the supply system to the Vietnamese communists, relieve pressure on U.S. and South Vietnamese soldiers in South Vietnam, facilitate the imminent withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam, and help rid Cambodia of the communist threat. Cambodia was no longer simply a sideshow in the Vietnam War; it was now part of it.
Nations around the world condemned the military action. At home, with the United States in the throes of the anti-war movement, Nixon's announcement ignited college campuses across the country. In one of the era's most infamous incidents, four student demonstrators were killed by the National Guard at Kent State University on May 4.
The U.S. Congress had been kept in the dark on the Cambodia Incursion. Its Committee on Foreign Relations, with Senator William J. Fulbright taking the lead, demanded to know the legal basis for the troops being sent to Cambodia. Fifty U.S. Senators voiced their opposition to the campaign; 21 supported it. Shortly thereafter, the Cooper-Church Amendment was introduced to the U.S. Senate, which included a stipulation that the official number of U.S. personnel in Cambodia could never exceed 200 at any given time.
But the incursion did not have the intended results. Fleeing from the attacks, the Vietnamese communists retreated deeper into Cambodia, bringing them within a few miles of Phnom Penh. President Nixon did not lose resolve, taking the view that it was essential to U.S. policy that Cambodia not fall to the communists. He was committed to preserving Cambodia's independence. To show his support, the President sent Vice President Spiro Agnew to Phnom Penh. Nixon was also determined to increase U.S. military assistance to Cambodia, seeking to increase aid from $8.9 million in 1970 to $40 million in 1971. A few months later, the President requested an additional $255 million for Cambodia. Congress would grant $185 million; in total, the United States would provide $1.6 billion to the Lon Nol regime. Controversially, some of these funds were delivered without Congressional approval.

Vice President Spiro Agnew on his visit to Cambodia in September in 1970.

The U.S. Embassy grew as U.S. military personnel arrived in Phnom Penh and u.s. forces provided significant air power to assist the Cambodians. But both the Department of Defense and the Embassy feared for Cambodia's future. Lon Nol continued to be a weak leader, ineffectively managing the army and a government that seemed to be falling deeper and deeper into corruption and incompetence. The country needed a strong, central character that would win the war.
Meanwhile, the Khmer Rouge forces, or FUNK, were becoming an increasing threat as their ranks swelled with new recruits, who were both students and peasants. FUNK was bolstered by the return of some 5,000 young Cambodians who had been indoctrinated and trained by the Viet Minh in the 15 years following the wars for independence with France, after the Vietnamese forces had withdrawn from Cambodia. These now seasoned soldiers were ready to train Cambodians to join them.
The Embassy estimated that FUNK forces had grown to 15,000 by August 1971, while other accounts suggested the number might be as high as 50,000.
The August 1971 Chenla II campaign, whose main goal was to a regain control of a key transportation link, was the last offensive led by Lon Nol's FANK troops. The North Vietnamese and Viet Cong crushed the Cambodian army, killing 3,000 soldiers and sending some 15,000 demoralized troops in retreat.
The situation in Phnom Penh continued to deteriorate. To consolidate his power, Lon Nol would become increasingly anti-democratic and begin violent crackdowns on student protests and labor strikes. When an election was called in the spring of 1972, the United States hoped that Lon Nol, who had recently suffered a stroke, would graciously bow out and a reform-minded group would assume power. Not only did Lon Nol run, but he won in an election that was widely believed to be rigged. Hope was fading fast for a resolution in Cambodia.
The security situation in the country deteriorated rapidly and attacks increased, with members of Lon Nol's army defecting to the Khmer Rouge. American Foreign Service officers were forced to travel in heavily armoured vehicles. One incident saw a bomb detonated near Deputy Chief of Mission Thomas Enders's car; had he not been in a protected vehicle, the attack would have killed him.

Admiral John S. McCain is welcomed by General Sisowath Sirik Matak upon arrival at the airport in 1971

The 1972 Easter Offensive in Vietnam, during which the North Vietnamese launched a massive campaign against South Vietnamese and U.S. troops, represented a major turning point in the war in Cambodia. Key Vietnamese units withdrew from Cambodia to support the offensive. From this point forward, the Khmer Rouge became the leading force battling the Lon Nol government, though officials in Washington would continue to believe that the insurgent troops were still backed by the Vietnamese. The conflict in Cambodia had now become a civil war.

A State Department report prepared in January of 1973 stated that the Cambodian government now controlled as little as a quarter of the country, and Lon Nol's government had virtually no support. It went on to say that without U.S. trade, Cambodia would be in complete economic ruin. Things had become so bad that even rice had to be imported into once-fertile Cambodia.
The same month saw the signing of the Paris Peace Accords, which ended direct U.S. military involvement in Vietnam. Fighting in Vietnam stopped temporarily, and there was momentary hope that the conflict would end in Cambodia. Though the accords reiterated Cambodia's independence and neutrality as defined by the 1954 Geneva Convention, no timetable was set for a ceasefire in Cambodia. On the advice of the United States, which hoped to see an end to the wars in Indochina, Lon Nol called for a ceasefire. Meanwhile, Prince Sihanouk repeatedly tried to meet with Kissinger and discuss solutions for the failing Cambodian state. Kissinger mistrusted Sihanouk's intentions and questioned his ties to the Khmer Rouge, and no talks were ever arranged.
u.s. Ambassador Emory Swank signs an assistance agreement with Cambodian Prime Minister Long Boret in 1973, which will provide Cambodia with 28,000 tons of rice.

The peace was short-lived and fighting resumed in February. Lon Nol's ineptitude and the lack of a obvious successor left Cambodia with few options for a way out, though he continued to crack down on civil rights, prohibiting public gatherings, imprisoning members of the royal family, and arresting political opponents.
The conflict continued to escalate and it looked as though Phnom Penh might fall to the Khmer Rouge at any moment. But the troops were pushed back by U.S. bombings. At home, pressure was growing to end U.S. involvement in the civil war. Congress soon revoked all funds for military involvement in Cambodia, forcing President Nixon to end all air support in mid-August of 1973.

Ambassador Swank, who was by now critical of the ongoing war, was relieved of his post. On April 3, 1974, John Gunther Dean presented his credentials and took on the daunting task of trying to salvage the increasingly hopeless situation in the country, which was now largely controlled by the Khmer Rouge. With U.S. support gone, the Lon Nol government focused its efforts on holding onto Phnom Penh for as long as it could.
Ambassador Dean urged for a controlled solution, which inevitably involved the United States negotiating with Khmer Rouge leaders. That way, he reasoned, the United States would at least
have some influence over the fate of the country. Ambassador Dean also urged Washington to open direct talks with Prince Sihanouk. But Kissinger, who was now Secretary of State, dismissed the urgency of Dean's pleas, and did not pursue diplomatic channels. By the time he came around to the idea in 1975, the Khmer Rouge was within weeks of total victory.
After President Nixon's resignation in August 1974, the Cambodia issue fell to President Gerald Ford. The administration continued to ask Congress to support Cambodia. President Ford did manage to secure a congressional, bipartisan fact-finding mission to visit Cambodia in March 1975. Stunned by the devastation, virtually all the participants returned with the intention of restoring aid to Cambodia. But it was too late.
By April, Lon Nol had left Phnom Penh. The Khmer Rouge was now within three miles of the city. On April 12, the U.S. Embassy in. Phnom Penh closed and 82 American citizens, along with 159 Cambodians and 35 other foreign nationals, were peacefully evacuated.
The Khmer Rouge entered Phnom Penh on April 17. Thirteen days later, Saigon fell. In the five years of civil war that had consumed Cambodia, 500,000 people died. But this would only be the beginning of the bloodshed in Cambodia.
Under the leadership of Saloth Sar, a long-time political rival of Lon Nol who had taken the revolutionary name Pol Pot, cities were emptied and residents were driven into the countryside.

u.s. Marine Corps evacuating U.S. Embassy staff and American citizens from Phnom Penh. The photo was taken on April 12, 1975 by war photographer Al Rockoff.

The new Democratic Kampuchea would become one of the most savage, secretive regimes in the world, maintaining ties only with North Korea and China. Little would be known about the atrocities that would ensue in the next four years, which would see nearly two million people, or a fifth of the population, perish.
A report generated in 1974 by Foreign Service Officer Kenneth Quinn, who would serve as Ambassador to Cambodia from 1996 to 1999, provided a stark portrayal of the Khmer Rouge's true nature. While stationed along the South Vietnamese border for nine months between 1973 and 1974, Quinn had interviewed countless Cambodian refugees who had escaped the brutal clutches of the Khmer Rouge. He learned that the regime abolished private property and collectivized all goods, imposed forced relocations, separated families, and classified all people as peasants, workers, or soldiers.

Education was highly suspect; wearing glasses was a crime worthy of execution. Minorities were persecuted. Work would be the only acceptable pastime. Quinn's assessment foreshadowed the country's fate.
After over 15 years of involvement in Indochina, and at great cost in American lives, the United States was ready to move on. Crises in the Middle East would occupy the administration of President Jimmy Carter. Though human rights stood at the center of his political agenda, the situation in Cambodia was not a priority. There would be some debate about the U.S. responsibility to Cambodia-most notably on the part of Representative Stephen Solarz, who would become the most informed congressmen on the issue. In 1978, President Carter issued a statement condemning the actions of the Democratic Kampuchea government and, importantly, used the word 'genocide' in his statement. The same year, legislation was passed that allowed 15,000 Cambodian refugees to settle in the United States.
In response to increased Khmer Rouge incursions into Vietnamese territory, Vietnamese troops invaded Cambodia in December 1978. In January, 1979 the Khmer Rouge fled Phnom Penh and Pol Pot was forced to retreat to northwestern Cambodia. Given Vietnam's recent alignment with the Soviet Union, the United States condemned the invasion, viewing it as an expansion of Soviet influence in Southeast Asia. Improving the relationship between the United States and Cambodia would have to wait