UN Works to Win Over Cambodian Factions
UNITED NATIONS, N.Y. — WITH the United Nations Security Council's big five in final agreement on a Cambodia peace framework, the focus for ending the 11-year conflict has shifted to winning the rival Cambodians' acceptance of its terms. The five permanent members - Britain, China, France, the Soviet Union, and the United States - announced Aug. 28 that they had agreed on ``the key elements of a comprehensive political settlement ... based on an enhanced UN role.'' Details now must be worked out with the Cambodians.
Elaborating on the joint statement, a senior US official said that, depending on its mandate, the peacekeeping and monitoring operation could consist of as many as 10,000 troops and an equal number of civilian administrative and election staff. He estimated the cost at $3 billion to $5 billion over one to two years.
Within the next few days, the stepped-up diplomatic activities will center on:
Resumed senior-level US-Vietnamese talks on Cambodia in New York Aug. 31 at the US Mission to the UN - the second such formal contact since the end of the Vietnam war in 1975.
A mission to front-line Thailand by Richard Solomon, US assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific.
A meeting of the Cambodian factions and other interested parties next week in Jakarta.
In all three cases, the emphasis will be on rallying support to persuade the four Cambodian factions to accept the blueprint drafted by the five.
A major stumbling block is the rejection by the Hanoi-installed regime in Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capital, of some of the proposals. Premier Hun Sen has balked at any heavy UN presence and at the recommended arrangement for power-sharing with the three resistance groups: the communist Khmer Rouge and its two noncommunist allies.
The guerrillas have said they support the five's earlier proposals, including a cease-fire, military disengagement, the deployment of UN peace keepers, the movement of the rival forces into cantonments, and disarmament of the belligerents.
The resistance and Phnom Penh are split on the composition and powers of a proposed Supreme National Council (SNC) of all four elements. It would administer the country between the cease-fire and elections.
In their communiqu'e, the five called on the Cambodian parties ``to form the Supreme National Council'' - preferably as early as next week's Jakarta conference. But Mr. Hun Sen has vowed to boycott the session, and diplomats say there is little chance of getting the peace plan off the ground without his participation. The US official conceded that a successful meeting of the Cambodian parties must precede Security Council action to implement the peace plan.
Also, formation of the SNC could head off a threatened fight for Cambodia's seat in the 45th General Assembly session, opening later this month. US Secretary of State James Baker III has announced that the Bush administration will no longer support the tripartite guerrilla coalition because it includes the Khmer Rouge, heir to Cambodia's ``killing fields'' regime of Pol Pot.
An effective cease-fire agreement is the key to fielding a UN peacekeeping operation, the US official said. Without it, he added, ``we wouldn't want to recommend sending in the blue helmets [troops]; donor countries are not interested in getting combat experience for their troops.''
The Aug. 31 US-Vietnam meeting, scarcely three weeks after the first session at Hanoi's UN mission, is intended to enlist Vietnam's support for the peace framework. Similarly, Mr. Solomon's mission, which may include participation in the Jakarta meeting, is aimed at explaining the agreement and probably at placating the six-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The six - Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines, Brunei, and Indonesia - were outraged at Mr. Baker's dumping of the Cambodia resistance coalition.
If the five are successful in selling their proposal, they recommend the reconvening of the Cambodia Paris conference, comprising all the interested parties and UN Secretary-General Javier P'erez de Cu'ellar.
``Its tasks should be to adopt the elements of the comprehensive political settlement and draw up a detailed plan of implementation in accord with this framework,'' the five concluded.