Cabinet Chief: UN May Visit Next Month

A team of UN negotiators is expected to arrive in Phnom Penh next month for negotiations on forming a Khmer Rouge tribunal, Minister of Cabinet Sok An said Wednesday.

“I am optimistic that the UN will come in February,” Sok An told journalists at Pochentong Airport after arriving from Africa on Wednesday evening.

The minister left New York last week after spending more than one week in talks with a UN negotiating team led by UN legal counsel Hans Corell. Sok An then spent several days in the African nation of Botswana to attend a conference on the rule of law and the legacy of conflict and war crimes before returning to Cambodia.

“According to Hans Corell’s proposal, we do not say the exact meaning because the negotiations are continuing,” he said. “I think there is a good chance a meeting will be held in February.

“We should not say it was a failed mission or a successful mission. This is a process of necessary work.”

Both the Cambodian government and Corell are due to report to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on progress on the talks before Annan’s March 18 deadline for reporting on the talks to the General Assembly.

This month’s meetings on a Khmer Rouge tribunal were the first since the UN pulled out of negotiations nearly one year ago saying Cambodia was incapable of guaranteeing an impartial court.

Negotiations were derailed when the Cambodian government insisted that its laws, and not those of the UN, hold su­prem­acy in trial proceedings.

The meetings held in New York this month were supposed to be a chance for both sides to state their positions before tackling the remaining issues dividing them at a meeting to be held in Phnom Penh. Though the UN has gone so far as to approve a budget for sending its negotiating team to Cambodia, no date has been set for further meetings.

More than 1 million Cambo­dians died of torture, starvation, disease and overwork under the regime. None of the regime’s top leaders have been tried by a reputable court for crimes committed during their rule.


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