Hun Sen to Give Speech Before UN

Prime Minister Hun Sen is scheduled to travel to UN headquarters in New York on Sept 19 to meet with Secretary-General Kofi Annan and address the UN General Assembly, government officials close to the premier said Wednesday.

“He will join the UN General Assembly. He will meet privately with Kofi Annan. They will ex­change and update information related to the Khmer Rouge tribunal,” Hun Sen’s adviser Om Yentieng said Thursday.

Hun Sen announced in July that he would visit UN headquarters once the National Assembly had ratified a bill to establish a UN-backed tribunal for surviving leaders of the 1975-79 Khmer Rouge regime.

But a UN official who declined to be named said Thursday that, although the tribunal issue  un­doubtedly will be raised, Hun Sen’s trip will be “a much more general political offensive.”

The official said the prime minister’s visit would have more to do with Cambodia’s campaign to sit on the UN Security Council for the 2006-07 term.

The request for nonpermanent membership to the Security Council was first made last November by Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, who cited a long, cooperative relationship between Cambodia and the UN, one during which Cambodia had never played a significant role in the world body.

As for the bill to establish the Khmer Rouge tribunal, despite priority status, it has yet to reach the National Assembly, and government officials said Wednesday that it will not do so before Hun Sen leaves for New York.

“The Khmer Rouge task force executive secretary [Sean Visoth] just returned the bill to the National Assembly this morning,” Ek Sam Ol, chairman of the Assembly’s Legislation Commission, said.

The Legislation Commission had sent the draft law back to the task force last week. Sean Visoth downplayed the move, saying last Friday that the law was only flawed by spelling mistakes and had already been returned to the Assembly.

“I just reviewed the draft again and I will submit it to the permanent committee to approve for the National Assembly agenda,” Ek Sam Ol said.

He said that a trip by Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh to visit King Norodom Sihanouk in Beijing and the Sept 12-17 meeting of the Asean Inter-Parliamentary Organization in Phnom Penh will add to the bills’ long list of delays—the most notable being the recently ended political deadlock.

Chan Ven, the Assembly’s deputy secretary general who sits on the Permanent Committee, said the tribunal bill will be put up for ratification during the fourth week of September.

“Don’t worry. It will happen soon,” he added.

Karsten Herrel, the New York-based UN Coordinator for the tribunal, was scheduled several times to visit Phnom Penh in August to finalize plans for the tribunal, particularly its budget.

Those trips were postponed.

Sean Visoth said that a date still has not been set for the UN delegation to return. He also said he did not know the purpose of Hun Sen’s trip to New York.

Om Yentieng said that the purpose was not to drum up contributions to fund the tribunal—an undertaking that some observers say will be a hard sell to certain donor nations.

“We currently are working to ask for funds from the donors, so we don’t need to ask for money at the General Assembly,” Om Yentieng said.


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