US Welcomes Steps Toward Government

The US on Thursday welcomed progress toward forming a new Cambodian government, calling it a start toward political reconciliation.

“We have long supported the formation of a representative government which provides for genuine power sharing in a coalition,” said a statement released by the US Embassy in Phnom Penh.

The statement also credited King Norodom Sihanouk for his “key” role in bringing the CPP and Funcinpec together for last week’s summit, which resulted in this week’s coalition talks.

A spokesman for the current CPP-led government indicated that the US statement has eased recently tense US-Cambodian relations. “We are pleased and hope the US government will help us achieve new goals and help in appealing for Cambodian national reconstruction,” Khieu Kanharith said Thursday.

The US statement, following Australia’s congratulatory statement Tuesday and one from France on Wednesday, is particularly significant because the US had been seen by op­position par­ty supporters here as an ally and arbiter of democratic standards.

Early in October, Stanley Roth, the US assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, said the US would oppose reinstatement of Cambodia’s UN seat as well as direct financial assistance unless opposition parties are given a “meaningful role” in Cambodia’s government.

During the September pro-democracy demonstrations, the US Embassy was besieged by protesters opposing the July 26 election results. Dana Roh­ra­bach­er, a US representative, sponsored a resolution condemning Second Prime Minister Hun Sen of war crimes. The resolution was passed in the US House of Rep­resentatives but not voted on by the Senate before it adjourned.

The CPP-led administration has lashed out at the Rohra­bach­er resolution. But on Thurs­day Khieu Kanharith said that “de­spite the decision by the [US] House [of Representa­tives], the relationship between the US and Cam­bo­dia is not damaged at all.”

 

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