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1975: US pulls out of Cambodia
The US has admitted defeat in Cambodia and removed its remaining embassy personnel from the capital, Phnom Penh.

Early this morning 276 people were airlifted from a football field near the embassy by a fleet of 30 helicopters.

Those on the airlift included 159 Cambodians who had worked with the Americans.

Foreign journalists who had been covering the civil war between the communist Khmer Rouge and the Cambodian government were also airlifted out of the country.

It was feared "Operation Eagle Pull", as the evacuation was dubbed, would come under Khmer Rouge fire and more than 300 armed Marines guarded the field.

However, the operation passed off uneventfully.

Some of Cambodia's most senior government ministers, including the Acting President, Saukham Khoy, were among the evacuees.

The country's Prime Minister, Long Boret, has remained in Phnom Penh.

Long Boret's decision not to leave came as a surprise as he has been condemned to death by the advancing Khmer Rouge.

'Heavy heart'

The evacuees were flown to American war ships, the Okinawa and the Hancock, in the Gulf of Thailand.

In Washington, President Ford explained the reasons why the US had pulled out of Cambodia.

Mr Ford said he had taken the decision with "a heavy heart" but had done so to ensure the safety of Americans who had "served valiantly".

The American withdrawal is an inglorious end to five years of involvement in Cambodia's civil war.

Its presence in the country was closely linked to the war it is conducting in neighbouring Vietnam.

Between 1970 and 1973 the US bombed Cambodia in order to stop its North Vietnamese enemies using the country as a base.

If Phnom Penh does fall, Cambodia will become the first country since Cuba 16 years ago to pass into Communist hands.

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Watch/Listen
The evacuees were airlifted to a US warship

BBC News crew flees Cambodia


In Context
After the Khmer Rouge entered Phnom Penh on 17 April its leader, Pol Pot, immediately set about realising his vision of an agrarian utopia.

He forced hundreds of thousands of people to leave urban areas and become farmers.

Pol Pot's reforms led to the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people - some were executed but many died of disease and starvation.

In 1979 Cambodia's old enemy, Vietnam, invaded and the Khmer Rouge fled.

In 1991 a United Nations-brokered peace agreement was signed which ended the country's civil war.

In 1997 Pol Pot was convicted of treason by a "people's tribunal" and was sentenced to life under house arrest.

He died in April 1998.

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