Cambodian Aid Cutoff Defeated
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The House on Wednesday approved continuing American aid to the non- communist resistance in Cambodia, rejecting arguments that it could help the Khmer Rouge return to power.
The House voted 260-162 for an amendment restoring an annual $7 million worth of non-lethal Cambodian aid to the Foreign Aid Bill.
The Appropriations Committee last week rejected the assistance because of widespread reports that some money was finding its way to the Khmer Rouge, the communist group blamed for more than a million deaths during their 1975-78 rule over the Southeast Asian country.
The Khmer Rouge were denounced as genocidal by both aid supporters and foes during debate marked by sharp criticism of U.S.-backed Prince Norodom Sihanouk for his alliance with the Khmer Rouge.
Rep. Stephen Solarz, D-N.Y., sponsor of the successful amendment, argued that the complex Cambodian civil war is ″now closer to a settlement than at any time in the last 15 years.″
″If we abandon the non-communist resistance it will be sending the wrong signal that time is on the side,″ Solarz said.
He denounced as ″hogwash the idea that Sihanouk is a front man for the Khmer Rouge,″ pointing out that the prince agreed to a cease-fire at the recent Tokyo conference boycotted by the Khmer Rouge.
″I stake my reputation ... that there is no credible argument whatever that the aid is going to the Khmer Rouge aid. If I find any is going to them, I will lead the fight to terminate it,″ said Solarz said, who heads the Asia- Pacific subcommittee and has made numerous visits to Indochina.
He and other aid supporters said continued aid might prove the only way to block the Khmer Rouge, by ending the fighting leading to U.N.-supervised elections they would be certain to lose.
Opposing continued aid, Rep. Chester Atkins, D-Mass., called Sihanouk ″the principal cloak for the return to power and respectability of the Khmer Rouge,″ and urged that ″we end our support for the Khmer Rouge and restore some sanity to U.S. policy.″
Rep. Jack Buechner, R-Mo., one of the few Republicans favoring the cutoff, said ″I fear we will give the vampire of Southeast Asia, the Khmer Rouge, an extra hour of moonlight ... (to) re-enact the killing fields.″