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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - King denies KR role; tribunal talks still stalled

King denies KR role; tribunal talks still stalled

Ving Norodom Sihanouk issued a statement March 21 denying any involvement with the

Khmer Rouge regime. It was the King's first public comment on KR-related matters

since the UN pulled out of negotiations over a tribunal on February 8.

"I did not join the Khmer Rouge," the King wrote. "The reality is

that the history of the Khmer Rouge regime involved Khieu Samphan, Hu Nim, and Hu

Youn. The Khmer Rouge killed people and officials loyal to the King."

He said he had not started the war and returned to Cambodia after the Khmer Rouge

victory over Lon Nol in 1975. In March 1976, when back in Phnom Penh, a Khmer Rouge

delegation requested he take on the role of head of state and chairman of Democratic

Kampuchea. He declined and chose to share the lives and suffering of the people.

"Khieu Samphan, Nuon Chea and Ieng Sary are still alive," he wrote. "They

can bear witness to that."

Funcinpec lawmaker Nan Sy told the Post that the King's statement was a message to

the international community and the UN that he was not involved with the KR.

Nan Sy explained that statement was also designed to encourage moves towards restarting

UN-Cambodian talks in order to ensure any future tribunal met international standards.

On March 20, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced a limit of three months to resume negotiations.

"The amount of time we will wait has limits," said Hun Sen, "but we

don't want anyone walking out. The door is still open."

He said the government was prepared to negotiate on the cooperation framework - known

as the Memorandum of Understanding - with the UN, but could not allow it to contradict

Cambodian law.

Hun Sen said the UN made a mistake in quitting negotiations and pinning the blame

on him. He said the UN's action had embarrassed it. His comments were in response

to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who on March 12 called on the international community

to stop pressuring him to resume talk. He suggested they speak to the Cambodian government

to resolve the impasse.

If the UN did not take part, Hun Sen said, the trial would be governed by Cambodian

law. The President of the National Assembly, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, admitted to

reporters March 26 that Cambodia's judicial system was not credible.

"Everyone knows that when it comes to justice in our country, it is not fair,"

said Ranariddh. "If [the trial] goes ahead without the UN, Cambodians will have

no confidence that it will be just and transparent."

Nan Sy said he would ask Funcinpec lawmakers to write a letter to Prince Ranariddh

inviting Sok An, the government's lead negotiator on the KR tribunal, to clarify

the situation once the National Assembly was again in session in April.

"We have had many discussions with groups of Funcinpec lawmakers to put this

question on the KR issue to the government," said Nan Sy. "It is our duty

to follow this up with the government."

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