US Ambassador Kent Wiedemann encouraged the government to “be more flexible” in establishing a trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders during a Monday meeting with Minister of Cabinet Sok An, officials said.
The ambassador presented Sok An with notes reiterating the US State Department’s position that the government should “work hard to reach an agreement with the UN,” said a US Embassy official.
Returning from New York, where he met with UN and US State Department officials, Sok An said Tuesday the government will move forward with its draft law to establish a local trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders with little to no UN involvement.
The coming procedure involves a nine-member task force assembled by Sok An that will complete a draft law and then send it on to the National Assembly for passage, he said.
While two task force members said Tuesday they do not know when the group will meet, Sok An said progress will be made “very soon.”
“Sok An informed the ambassador that he has already established a working group,” said Council of Ministers spokesman Khieu Thavika. “Now, he will give the ambassador’s points to the group, and it will decide which ones to accept and which ones to deny.”
During meetings with Sok An, UN officials stressed the need for an international-style tribunal with a majority of UN-appointed judges. But the government has steadfastly defied this proposal, citing national sovereignty.
The US Embassy official, who asked not to be named, would not outline the ambassador’s notes in detail but said they fall in line with the UN proposal.
Prince Norodom Ranariddh on Tuesday softened a previous stance to hold an international trial, saying too much pressure from Western nations could incite renewed political instability.
“In solving national issues, Cambodia—even the King—does not want to see foreigners act as the owner of Cambodian fate,” he said. (Additional reporting by Lor Chandara)