Khmernews

U.S. Official Denies Cambodian Official’s Assertion

Posted by khmernews on February 7, 2008

By Sovannarith

Kao Kim Huon, senior official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has re-claimed that a U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State did request Cambodia to set up a post of special advisor in order to help the Khmer Rouge tribunal, although the U.S. official denied the assertion.

In a press conference at the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh on Friday last week, Scot Marciel, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, said that in a special meeting with acting Foreign Minister H.E. Uch Borith on Thursday, January 17, he and U.S. officials had highlighted the stand of the U.S. and recent developments of the Khmer Rouge tribunal. “It’s certainly not our proposal or recommendations, and there was no discussion about an American role. What I remember is that there was a talk about the discussion between the United Nations and Cambodian authorities on the establishment of the special post in order to strengthen the court, and we supported the idea. Therefore, it is not our proposal,” he said.

It should be noticed that Scot Marciel has made the denial after Kao Kim Huon, Cambodian Secretary of State for Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told journalists after the special meeting that the U.S. had suggested creating a post of special advisor to help the Khmer Rouge tribunal to build up the confidence amongst the international community, including the U.S. on funding the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

“Now, what can I say? I could not say what was not mentioned. So, if the U.S. has rejected what was mentioned in the meeting, we need to consider and discuss with the U.N. whether or not to set up the post,” said Kao Kim Huon on Friday.

Concerning the attitude of the U.S. towards the Khmer Rouge tribunal, Scot Marciel said that the U.S. Senate were mulling over the funding. However, he could not say the amount and time of funding.

The Khmer Rouge tribunal was planned to spend over $56 million for 3 years. Up to now, five former Khmer Rouge leaders have been detained awaiting trial.

Foreign Minister Hor Namhong once said that the tribunal could be extended through 2010. But Khmer Rouge tribunal Spokesman Reach Sambath claimed that Cambodian side will run out of fund in March or April while the U.N. side at the end of 2008.

“So far, the U.S. has always been worried about the independence and standards of the court. In order to get support from the U.S., the court must have all of these. The request of the U.S. means the candidacy could be the U.S.,” Kao Kim Huon told journalists after the special meeting on Thursday last week. “We have replied that the royal government is considering the post with other proponents,” he said.

Meanwhile, Reach Sambath, Khmer Rouge tribunal’s spokesman, who is returning from former Khmer Rouge stronghold in Pailin, said that the tribunal could have run out of fund this year, but that the tribunal was still carrying out tasks in accord with the agreement’s spirit . “Up to the present time, we have been doing the tasks in accordance with the agreement between Cambodia and the United Nations….,” he said adding that he did not want to give more comment on what they had said.

[…]

Although the five former senior Khmer Rouge leaders are in custody, foreign and U.S officials have often expressed their concerns over independence of the court’s officials and the international standards of justice of the Extraordinary Chambers.

Unofficial Translation
-Extracted from Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol. 15, #3234, Tuesday, January 22, 2008.

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