Trial Compromise Promised

Government officials on Tues­day said they would revise their plan to try former Khmer Rouge leaders, promising they would invite the UN to Cambodia for continued talks on the trial.

The announcement came after a two-hour meeting between Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen—and amid speculation the government would pass its plan through parliament without further negotiation with the UN.

But National Assembly Presi­dent Prince Norodom Ranariddh said legislative debate over the draft law to establish the trial will be delayed until the executive branch makes further changes.

“Hun Sen wants to improve this law,” the prince said Tues­day. “The National Assem­bly also is very open to get any suggestion from the UN.”

Although Japanese officials maintained Obuchi’s ostensible goal was to assess Southeast Asia before the July G-8 summit in Okinawa, they conceded that he encouraged the Cambodian government to cooperate with the UN on the Khmer Rouge trial.

Obuchi’s trip here—the first by a Japanese head of state in more than 40 years—comes with the promise of roughly $19 million for non-project aid grants to Cam­bodia’s national treasury for economic development and $2.8 million for mine victim assistance and de-mining. Japan is Cam­bodia’s largest bilateral donor.

Cambodia’s Minister of Cabi­net Sok An on Tuesday said Hun Sen was willing to alter the government’s latest trial plan passed by cabinet last week and re-address the law in Friday’s cabinet meeting.

Sok An added that the government hopes to receive a UN legal team “as soon as possible.”

Responding to UN concerns over the government’s draft law.

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