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Five Permanent Security Council Members Begin Talks on Cambodia

August 27, 1990

UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ The five permanent members of the Security Council opened private talks Monday aimed at breaking an impasse in efforts to end Cambodia’s 11-year-old civil war.

The permanent council members - the United States, the Soviet Union, China, Britain and France - are discussing a formula for establishing a multiparty transitional Cambodian administration that would organize free elections after a cease-fire, said a U.S. official, speaking privately.

The transitional administration, or Supreme National Council, would work with U.N. agencies and officials in organizing the elections, the official said.

Diplomats from the five nations were expected to brief U.N. Secretary- General Javier Perez de Cuellar on Tuesday on the outcome of their discussions.

They were also expected to consult with representatives of Vietnam and the Cambodian guerrilla coalition, as well as with officials from other countries in the region.

Richard Solomon, the assistant secretary of state for East Asian affairs, was leading the U.S. delegation in the private talks.

In Bangkok, Thailand, a U.S. official said he expected that the five permanent council members would propose a new formula for the composition of the Supreme National Council in an effort to break the latest impasse in peace talks.

Alexander Watson, U.S. permanent representative to the United Nations, said he expected that the permanent council members would propose that the Supreme National Council be comprised of people chosen in their individual capacities rather than as representatives of specific Cambodian factions.

″That’s an effort obviously to avoid endless squabbles over which factions are represented by how many people (and) in which way,″ Watson said after talks with Thai officials. He was in Thailand on a six-nation Asian trip.

″This is a historic moment,″ Watson said. ″Never have all the pieces been in place like they are now for a real shot at getting a solution to the problem.″

The Vietnamese-backed Cambodian government and the three guerrilla groups opposing it have argued over how many seats each of the factions should have on the Supreme National Council.

The guerrilla coalition comprises the Khmer Rouge, which has the strongest guerrilla army, the forces of former Cambodian leader Prince Norodom Sihanouk, and the Khmer People’s National Liberation Front.

Vietnam installed the current government after invading Cambodia in late 1978 and ousting the Khmer Rouge, which killed hundreds of thousands of people during its 3 1/2 -year reign.

Watson said he expected the Security Council to agree that the Supreme National Council would function as an advisory body for a U.N. interim government.

In June, Secretary of State James A. Baker III altered the diplomatic balance on Cambodia when he announced that the United States was withdrawing its recognition of the guerrilla coalition and opening talks with Vietnam.

U.S. officials held their first round of talks with Vietnamese diplomats last month at Vietnam’s U.N. Mission.

The United States has been assisting the two non-Communist factions in the guerrilla coalition, led by Prince Sihanouk and former Premier Son Sann.

China is the main backer of the Khmer Rouge; while the Soviet Union has supported Vietnam and the Phnom Penh government.

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