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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Khmer Rouge 'Upping the Ante'

Khmer Rouge 'Upping the Ante'

(AP) - The Khmer Rouge launched its first major protest against Cambodia's new government

on July 26 as the U.N. mission reported an escalation in attacks by the guerrilla


The Khmer Rouge, whose overtures to work with the newly elected government have been

rebuffed so far, said in a six-page statement obtained by the Associated Press that

the country still was being controlled by Vietnam because it was being run by a coalition

that included the previous Vietnamese-installed government.

The Khmer Rouge, with a fighting force of 10,000 men, controls about 20 percent of

Cambodia. The group has said it would turn over its army and territory if it were

given an advisory post in the new government.

The government has been hesitant about inviting in the Khmer Rouge because the United

States and France have threatened to withhold much-needed aid if the administration

included the guerrilla group. But U.N. officials said July 21 that the American position

was flexible.

Sihanouk issued a statement on July 23 saying he "definitely renounces negotiations"

with the Khmer Rouge. But he said he would permit the leaders of the country's interim

administration to meet with the Khmer Rouge if they thought it would bring peace.

The government said it was too early to say if it would resume talks with the guerrilla


The United States ran into disagreement with its Asian allies on July 26 over the

issue at the first session of a forum of 13 Asian and Pacific Foreign Ministers,

who issued a statement warning that the "exclusion of the Khmer Rouge carried

serious risks" for the survival of the international peace effort.

U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher told delegates that the United States

has every intention of helping a future Cambodian government financially, but would

have a difficult time doing so if the Khmer Rouge were taking part because of U.S.

laws which forbid indirect aid to the group.

In the past week, the Khmer Rouge has increased attacks on government soldiers in

northwestern Cambodia, forcing the administration to reinforce the 9th-to 13th-century

temples of Angkor Wat this past weekend with 800 soldiers, said U.N. spokeswoman

Susan Manuel.

Several mortar rounds were reported in the temple area on Sunday and a fire fight

had been reported in the surrounding province of Siem Reap during the weekend, she

said. The only reported casualties were four Khmer Rouge guerrillas.

Manuel said the Khmer Rouge appeared to be "upping the ante" and noted

that U.N. peacekeepers had upgraded the security situation to "tense."

Adding to the tension were reports that a "serious" situation had developed

along Cambodia's border with Vietnam, where about 3,000 ethnic Vietnamese had been

barred from returning to Cambodia.

More than 20,000 members of the minority group fled, three months ago after the Khmer

Rouge killed over 100 Vietnamese in racial attacks. U.N. sources said the Khmer Rouge

resumed those attacks earlier this month, killing eight ethnic Vietnamese fishing

in waters controlled by the group.

The sources said the interim government told U.N. officials last week that it had

decided to bar the Vietnamese because it could not guarantee the ethnic minority's


The administration issued a statement on July 23 condemning the Khmer Rouge attacks

against the ethnic Vietnamese, saying they constituted "hostility" toward

the new government.



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