The Khmer Republic faced a growing fuel shortage and considerable pressure from Communist forces as it prepared for the visit of the United States special envoy, General Alexander Haig.
The Khmer Republic faced a growing fuel shortage and considerable pressure from Communist forces as it prepared for the visit of the United States special envoy, General Alexander Haig. General Haig visited Phnom Penh on Thursday (January 18), talked with the Head of State, General Lon Nol, and left the country on the same day. English language banners reading, "Our struggle is the national resistance against foreign aggression" and "We want to stay free. Help Us", had been strung across roads shortly before General Haig's visit.
The capital, is desperately short of fuel - both for the electricity generators which run the city's power supply and for ordinary public use. Every major highway in the Republic has been cut by Communist forces and the Mekong River has become the major supply line for the capital. The Mekong itself has been under threat in recent weeks as Communist forces overran a number of government outposts in the river area.
SYNOPSIS: English-language banners promoting Khmer-U.S. Friendship were erected across Phnom Penh streets shortly before Thursday's visit by the U.S. special envoy General Alexander Haig. General Haig visited the Khmer Republic for short talks with Head of State, General Lon Nol after discussions in Saigon with President Thieu on a Vietnam ceasefire.
The visit came with the capital desperately short of fuel. Motor cyclists were rationed to half a gallon of petrol per purchase and motorists, 2 gallons per vehicle. The city also needs fuel for generators which provide the city's power supplies. Despite rumours of fighting over petrol, these buyers appeared in good spirits despite the queues. They've been through similar shortages before and together with the efforts at rationing, a black market in fuel exists.
Every major highway in the Republic has been cut by Communist forces in a campaign which has resulted in serious shortages of not only fuel but essential foodstuffs.
The Mekong River has supplanted highways as Phnom Penh's main supply line. But the waterways too are under pressure. In recent weeks, communist advances have overrun a number of Government outposts around the Mekong.
This group was in the midst of the recent fighting along the river. During the action, a propeller-driven T-twenty-eight fighter-bomber of the Khmer Air Force exploded in mid-air over their outpost. Wreckage fell within yards of their encampment. Communist forces overran large numbers of these outposts in recent attacks, but most of them were manned by only a few soldiers.