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Tuesday, 23 August 1983
Page: 89

Question No. 117

Mr MacKellar asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 11 May 1983:

(1) Can he say how many Vietnamese troops occupy (a) Laos and (b) Cambodia, and what is the role of these troops in each country.

(2) Has the Government's attention been drawn to the announced withdrawal of 10 ,000 Vietnamese troops from Cambodia; if so, is there any substance to the announcement.

(3) Can he also say whether a similar withdrawal was announced last year and subsequently failed to take place.

Mr Hayden —The answer to the honourable member's questions is as follows:

(1) (a) It is estimated that approximately 40,000 Vietnamese troops are currently stationed in Laos. These troops, who perform for the most part a security role, are present under a Twenty-five Year Treaty of Friendship and Co- operation that has been in force between Laos and Vietnam since July 1977.

(b) It is estimated that there are upwards of 160,000 Vietnamese troops in Cambodia. Vietnam and the People's Republic of Kampuchea regime claim that these forces are in Cambodia by invitation of the Phnom Penh government, in accordance with a Twenty-five Year Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Co-operation, signed in February 1979. The main role of these troops is to uphold the People's Republic of Kampuchea regime, which it installed in 1979, and to prevent the Khmer Rouge returning to power.

(2) The Government has noted the announced troop withdrawal from Cambodia. It is also aware that foreign journalists were invited on 2 May to observe the departure of some two thousand troops and several tanks from Phnom Penh and that several hundred of these troops did arrive in Ho Chi Minh City on 4 May. It is not possible to be sure as yet whether the announced movement of troops represents a partial withdrawal or is only part of the normal rotation of troops .

(3) I can confirm that a similar withdrawal was announced by Vietnam on 7 July last year. What occurred, however, was apparently a normal rotation of troops.