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General Returns to Cambodia

March 7, 1999

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) _ A top royalist general returned to Phnom Penh Sunday for the first time since fleeing the Cambodian capital in 1997 and leading resistance against Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The return of Nhek Bunchhay, formerly second-in-command of the Cambodian army, was part of the continued reconciliation between Hun Sen and Prince Norodom Ranariddh, whom he ousted as prime minister in the 1997 coup.

The popular general was met at the airport by a crowd of senior officials and well-wishers from Ranariddh’s FUNCINPEC party. Nhek Bunchhay smiled and waved to the crowd before security forces swept him into a waiting four-wheel-drive vehicle.

Prince Sisowath Sirirath, one of Cambodia’s two defense ministers, said he was confident the general and his former enemies in Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party would bury the past and live peacefully in Phnom Penh.

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