As Communist troops continued attempts to isolate the beleaguered Khmer Republican capital, Phnom Penh, General Alexander Haig, special envoy to us.
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Background: As Communist troops continued attempts to isolate the beleaguered Khmer Republican capital, Phnom Penh, General Alexander Haig, special envoy to us. President Richard Nixon flew in to examine the situation on Tuesday (10 April).
Phnom Penh is under a state of siege as Communist forces continue attempts to cut its supply lines from the outside. The Communist already control an estimated 80 per cent of the Republic and 70 per cent of the population. The only supply line still functioning is by boat, up the Mekong River. But heavy fire from the river banks destroyed two to ten ships making the journey upstream on the weekend.
General Haig refused to answer any queries about his mission. As he held talks with officials, thousands of refugees continued life in camps in the besieged city. The one with the most exotic surroundings is the unfinished Hotel Cambodians. Started by deposed Prince Norodom Sihanouk as a luxury hotel on the banks of the Mekong, its unfinished shell now houses over 2,000 Khmers. Few partitions separate the living quarters of the families -- many of whom were driven from their homes by American bombing - but they remain cheerful. Despite the U.S. air strikes, few blame the Americans. So great is their dislike for the Vietnamese people in general, most in the camp said they preferred their homes to be destroyed rather than live under the Vietnamese.
Vietnamese forces are still actively engaged in the Khmer Republic, though now largely as advisors to the Khmer dissidents or in supporting roles, providing mortar and rocket backing and communications.
SYNOPSIS: As Communist troops tightened their pressure on Phnom Penh, the beleaguered Khmer Republican capital, the United States Embassy was the scene of consultations between the ambassador and General Alexander Haig, a special envoy of President Richard Nixon. General haig refused to comment, but embassy spokesmen said the visit was to assess the political and military situation. The capital is effectively isolated by all but transport up the Mekong River and communist fire from the banks was putting pressure on that supply line.
Meanwhile, the capital attempts to cope with its share of the refugees made homeless by the war. Exotic, but not typical, is this accommodation for two thousand people, in the unfinished Hotel Cambodians.
Begun by deposed President Prince Norodom Sihanouk, the luxury hotel on the banks of the Mekong is only a shell, where women and children live in large, communal areas amid the pillars, great halls and specious patios.
The refugees, many made homeless by American bombing support for government troops, are determinedly cheerful.
Most said they prefer the uncertain homelessness to life under the Vietnamese communist supporting the Khmer communist forces.