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U.S. Envoy Backs Cambodia Tribunal

March 9, 2000

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) _ The United States is hopeful that Cambodia and the United Nations will agree soon on a genocide tribunal for Khmer Rouge leaders, a visiting American envoy said.

Cambodian and U.N. officials have been talking for months about trying the Khmer Rouge leaders blamed for the death of 1.7 million people during the group’s radical communist rule in the late 1970s. But talks have stalled over which side would have effective control of the proceedings.

A U.N. team will begin what is expected to be make-or-break talks March 17 in Phnom Penh.

``We’re hoping we’re at an historic point here where the U.N. and the government here will be able to work flexibly together,″ said Ralph Boyce, deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific. The United States has been a key player in the drawn-out negotiations, suggesting several compromises.

``I see a lot of positive indications,″ Boyce said Thursday. ``I hope we won’t be disappointed.″

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen is keen to gain the international legitimacy that U.N. involvement would bring, but has refused U.N. demands for a majority of foreign judges and an independent, U.N.-appointed prosecutor.

Diplomats say Cambodia’s demand for joint prosecutors _ one Cambodian and one foreigner who must agree on all indictments _ faces stiff opposition from U.N. legal experts.

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