A senior US diplomat has reiterated that direct negotiations between the ruling party and the opposition is the only way to break the political deadlock that has gripped the Kingdom since July’s national election, reporters were told yesterday.
Following a closed-door meeting between Scot Marciel, principal deputy assistant secretary at the US State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and foreign affairs minister Hor Namhong, US embassy spokesman Sean McIntosh told reporters that Marciel had restated Washington's position.
“As the [US] has said time and time again, we encourage both parties to return to the negotiating table such as to de-escalate the current situation,” he said.
“It is very important that the Cambodian People’s Party and the Cambodia National Rescue Party sit together and talk about how they want to move forward and begin implementing reforms … necessary for the benefit of the Cambodian people.”
Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Koung said that Marciel had stressed that the US government was taking no sides in the political face-off between the two parties.
“The US stressed a clear position that [it will] not take sides with any political party and encourages the [CPP and CNRP] to sit together for peaceful talks, meaning that Khmers and Khmers have to resolve [this] problem by themselves, that was the key point,” he said.
“The deputy prime minister [Namhong] has insisted that the CNRP [must] return to the negotiating table and sit in the National Assembly to debate its demands for overall election reform or a re-election. But not [remain] in the streets.”
CNRP vice-president Kem Sokha said he had informed the US diplomat in a private meeting that the opposition would not resume talks while the current environment of political pressure and intimidation prevails.
Recent opposition meets in Kandal and Kampong Cham have been called off after the deployment of security forces, along with intimidating plain-clothes ruling party supporters, to the vicinity.
“When we feel that the political environment has returned to normal [and there is] no longer pressure and intimidation, then we will resume talks,” he said.