The leaders of the three main parties met for the first time since the July 26 vote at a UN-hosted dinner Friday, but denied the meal was an opportunity to discuss a future government.
UN special representative Lakhan Mehrotra invited Prince Norodom Ranariddh, Sam Rainsy and Chea Sim to a dinner at the Chamkar Mon Palace on Friday evening.
Mehrotra told reporters the dinner successfully brought the leaders together. “I think this is a very good start and I hope this would lead to a good constructive dialogue among them, and the resolution of the Cambodian difficulties,” he told Kyodo news.
The dinner for 10 included Princess Marie, the prince’s wife; Tioulong Saumura, Sam Rainsy’s wife and a newly elected National Assembly member; and Math Ly Roun Borey, chief of protocol for CPP President Chea Sim. It lasted more than two hours.
Attendees and party spokespeople played down the significance of the three leaders meeting for the first time since before Prince Ranariddh fled the country in July 1997. “It was a simple dinner, that’s all,” Math Ly Roun Borey said Sunday. “The guests were happy because it was sponsored by the UN.”
Added Oum Sarith, chief of cabinet for Chea Sim, “We did not discuss anything during dinner because we were only the invited guests.”
The prince was than conciliatory when he referred to the dinner in a supporters’ meeting Saturday, Agence France-Presse reported. “If we join [the CPP], they can survive for five years,” he told the 1,000-strong crowd. “But if we don’t join them, they won’t be able to survive.”
Despite the dinner’s bill as a meal in honor of Chea Sim, some diplomats were skeptical Friday of what the UN might want to achieve by holding the dinner.
“This is a very tricky situation,” a diplomat told AFP. “There is always a danger in getting involved this closely, especially given the circumstances.
“You have to be careful not to assume your influence goes too far.”