Saying that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s refusal Wednesday to return to Khmer Rouge trial negotiations “reflects certain misunderstandings of the Cambodian government’s position,” Minister of Cabinet Sok An said Friday in a statement that Cambodia is continuing to try and cooperate with the world body.
“The Secretary-General is quoted as saying…that Cambodia was obstructing efforts to create a framework that would guarantee a fair trial that meets international standards,” the statement reads.
“But it was precisely in order to assure a credible trial on the basis of internationally accepted standards that Cambodia [sought UN participation].”
The UN abruptly pulled out of trial negotiations Feb 8, bringing several years of often contentious talks to a halt. On Wednesday Annan said the task of jumpstarting trial talks falls on Prime Minister Hun Sen’s shoulders.
“It would be more effective if [UN ambassadors]…got Prime Minister Hun Sen to change his position,” Annan told reporters.
But Sok An accused UN legal adviser Hans Corell of not responding to attempts by the Cambodians to clarify its position on the Khmer Rouge trial law, saying the UN “has not identified any violations of internationally accepted standards in the Cambodian Khmer Rouge Law.”
He also defended the government against the UN’s claims that Cambodian negotiators are trying to give Cambodian laws for setting up the tribunal precedence over their agreement with the UN on the trial’s conduct.
“The supremacy of one document over another is not a matter of issue here,” Sok An’s statement reads.
Despite his diplomatic language, and his promise to “find a way out of the present impasse,” Sok An doesn’t suggest any softening of Cambodia’s position. It is this stalemate that has some Phnom Penh diplomats saying that there is no easy solution for the two equally stubborn sides.
“It’s a matter of honor. I really can’t see a way out of this,” one Asian diplomat said.