Returning Tuesday from a UN summit in the US attended by 150 of the world’s leaders, Cambodian officials said they spent their time talking about the need to alleviate poverty and did not dwell on the trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders.
“We did not make the Khmer Rouge issue our main topic because there are other big issues to be addressed,” Minister of Cabinet Sok An said of the week-long trip to New York
“In our country, we have to address the flood. We have a lot of work to do in the development of policy. We are not focusing so much on the Khmer Rouge issue.”
Sok An said he will continue to discuss the Khmer Rouge tribunal draft law with the National Assembly’s legislation commission, but he declined to say when those talks would resume.
“I would like to confirm once again the government does not take the Khmer Rouge as a priority more than other topics,” Sok An said.
Prime Minister Hun Sen did speak about the Khmer Rouge tribunal in an interview Sunday in New York with Agence France-Presse.
“I do not predict who will be put on trial,” he said.
He said he spoke with several UN officials during a reception held by US President Bill Clinton, “but we did not raise the issue again, because we assumed that this issue had been completed already.
“The main problem now is to push for a quick adoption of the law by the National Assembly and the Senate. I don’t want to disturb this process, which is done by the government and the parliament of a sovereign state. That is why I appeal to [other countries] to be quiet and let the government do their work.”
He again denied promising freedom to any former Khmer Rouge leader. “If I don’t want a trial, why did I arrest Ta Mok?” he said, referring to the former Khmer Rouge military commander who has been in jail the past 18 months.
Hun Sen said he had Ta Mok arrested because the rebel leader hadn’t defected, but he added: “It doesn’t mean the other leaders [who did defect] would not face a trial.
“My real concern now is poverty of the Cambodian people,” Hun Sen said. “So the other people should stop disturbing me on the Khmer Rouge trial.”
While in New York, Hun Sen spoke in favor of adding Japan and India to the UN Security Council. Sok An said those efforts will continue at future UN gatherings.
As many countries in the international community push for a Khmer Rouge trial, Hun Sen has been highly critical of the UN, which he has accused of supporting the Khmer Rouge during the 1980s after Vietnam invaded Cambodia.
Had last week’s UN summit been held in the early 1980s, it could have been attended by a representative of the Khmer Rouge, which held Cambodia’s UN seat as a member of the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea.