Sam Rainsy, Sar Kheng Say Plans Underway for Top-Level Talks

Interior Minister Sar Kheng and opposition leader Sam Rainsy said Tuesday that preparations are underway for a meeting between Mr. Rainsy and Prime Minister Hun Sen to discuss the country’s ongoing political deadlock.

On the sidelines of the second session of the National Assembly since the CPP government was formed in September, Mr. Kheng responded pithily when asked about reports regarding the possibility of such a meeting.

“We are preparing, we are preparing,” he said, declining to elaborate.

Asked by telephone about Mr. Kheng’s comments, Mr. Rainsy said talks were taking place between representatives of the two parties to set an agenda for a meeting between the party leaders.

“There are now communications at the lower level. They are preparing for a possible meeting between the top leaders,” Mr. Rainsy said.

“They have been exchanging information and coordinating what could be a common approach,” he added. “I cannot say more than that, but on our part, it is Son Chhay who is negotiating with someone from the government.”

Mr. Chhay, who is the CNRP’s chief whip, said that the discussions about such a top-level meeting are still in their early stages.

“There are communications between myself and Prum Sokha,” Mr. Chhay said, referring to the CPP Ministry of Interior secretary of state.

“We have been appointed for the meantime to work on a solution to the crisis. But we have no further details. We have not met yet to talk about what we can bring back to the party leaders,” the opposition lawmaker-elect said.

Mr. Chhay declined to speak further, saying he was at a wedding. Mr. Sokha, who also said he was at a wedding, declined to comment on the matter.

Mr. Sokha and Mr. Chhay led their parties in discussions in late February that led to the creation of the Election Reform Commission. The CNRP last week suspended the commission after the CPP refused to consider a proposal to give the opposition a role in appointing members to the National Election Committee.

Mr. Rainsy subsequently called for a meeting with Mr. Hun Sen.

Outside the National Assembly meeting Tuesday, Mr. Hun Sen demurred when asked about the possibility of such a top-level meeting.

“We have determined that we will keep walking forward, while the other ones walk forward and then walk backward,” the prime minister said.

“So the one you need to ask is other people, not me,” he said.

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