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China, Soviet Union to Discuss Cambodia

August 19, 1988

BEIJING (AP) _ China and the Soviet Union will hold talks in Beijing on Aug. 27 to seek solutions to the Cambodian conflict and improvement in strained Chinese-Soviet relations, Foreign Ministry spokesman Jin Guihua said Thursday. He said at a weekly briefing that the talks will focus on Cambodia and will be led by Soviet Vice Foreign Minister Igor Rogachev and his Chinese counterpart Tian Zengpei. The meeting is expected to last several days.

″The Chinese will be in a listening mode,″ said one Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity. ″They’ll be waiting to see what the Soviets have to offer.″

He said the Chinese remain skeptical about a quick solution to the Cambodian conflict. He added, however, that if Moscow and Beijing can come to terms on Cambodia, there would be ″a lot of movement toward the normalization process″ of Chinese-Soviet relations.

Moscow is the main backer of Vietnam in its 9-year-old military occupation of Cambodia. Beijing is chief supporter of the communist Khmer Rouge and the other anti-Vietnamese resistance forces in Cambodia.

Communist Vietnam has pledged to withdraw 50,000 troops, or about half its force in Cambodia, this year and the rest by early 1990.

Both China and the Soviet Union have expressed support for a peaceful political solution in Cambodia. They are expected to seek ways to bring about a Vietnamese withdrawal without leaving the nation vulnerable to a takeover by the Khmer Rouge, who launched a reign of terror during their 1975-78 rule.

Although it has supported the Khmer Rouge, China has agreed that the group should not dominate a future coalition government. But China also rejects Vietnam’s attempts to link its military withdrawal to dismantling Khmer Rouge forces.

The Beijing meeting could also help shape the future of Chinese-Soviet relations.

China stresses that it will fully normalize political relations with the Soviet Union only when the Kremlin takes action to end Vietnam’s presence in Cambodia.

Ties between the two communist giants have been strained since they split over ideological and strategic differences in the early 1960s.

Political normalization talks have gone on since 1982, but bogged down with China’s objecting to Soviet military strength on the common border, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and Cambodia.

The Communist Party general secretary, Zhao Ziyang, told Japanese journalists Tuesday that the first Chinese-Soviet summit meeting since the breakdown of relations was possible if Moscow first urges Vietnam to leave Cambodia.

The Western diplomat estimated that at least a 50 percent chance exists that 1989 will see a Chinese-Soviet summit, which probably would bring Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to Beijing to meet China’s senior leader, Deng Xiaoping.

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