UN Meets Gov’t for Tribunal Talks, Cancels Press Conference

A visiting UN delegation met Tuesday with Cabinet Minister Sok An for talks about the Khmer Rouge tribunal but then canceled a press conference scheduled for today. The talks were widely ex­pected to focus on resolving the mat­ter of kickback allegations reported earlier this year by Cam­bodian staff at the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

After 90 minutes of closed-door discussions at the Council of Ministers, the three-member delegation, including Assistant UN Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Peter Taksøe-Jensen, Nicholas Haysom, director of political affairs in the office of the UN Secretary-General, and UN Legal Officer Pa­tricia Georget, left without taking questions from reporters.

Council of Ministers adviser Pen Ngoeun told reporters that both sides would release a joint statement today, adding that the discussion was “very, very fruitful.”

A statement issued late Tuesday night by former UN tribunal spokes­man Peter Foster said a press conference scheduled to be held this evening by the UN delegation had been canceled.

“A press statement regarding this visit will be issued at a later date,” the statement said.

Sok An in August told the UN Office of Legal Affairs that Cam­bodia, and not the UN, had the legal authority to respond to any irregularities on the Khmer Rouge tribunal’s Cambodian side. The government in September also re­acted with dismay to the findings of a UN review of the allegations, which it said had unfairly identified Cambodian court staff.

Heather Ryan, a tribunal monitor for the Open Society Justice Ini­tiative, said Tuesday she believed greater cooperation between both

sides was necessary.

“The court is facing many challenges now and hopefully in­creased cooperation between the government of Cambodia and the United Nations may help the court overcome them,” she said.

In a statement released Friday, the UN Office of Legal Affairs said the purpose of the meeting was “to address a number of issues of common concern to the UN and the Cam­bodian authorities.”

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