PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) _ Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk says he would commit suicide in despair over his country's chronic strife and poverty if it were not against his religious beliefs.

In an interview in his monthly palace bulletin, sent to news agencies Sunday, Sihanouk indicated that his depression over Cambodia's woes since a July coup has hit new depths.

``If I wasn't a Buddhist, I would kill myself, because the end of my life is filled with shame, humiliation and despair over the national order,'' Sihanouk said in the interview, dated Oct. 5.

Sihanouk said that his 75th birthday on Oct. 31 should be celebrated with a minimum of spending and celebration because of the lack of money in the treasury and the nationwide discord.

``In a blooming Asia ... we are alone as an island of war, insecurity, self-destruction, poverty, social injustice, arch corruption, lawlessness, national division, drug trafficking and AIDS,'' Sihanouk said.

The king returned to Cambodia last month after several months of medical treatment in China. In recent years, he has suffered cancer, now in remission, a stroke, hardening of the arteries and cataracts.

Sihanouk has said that he wants to die and has floated the idea of abdicating, but indicated he would remain on the throne at least through elections planned for next year.

In July, coup leader Hun Sen deposed Sihanouk's son, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, as his co-prime minister. The prince is in exile and is threatened with arrest if he returns. His followers are fighting Hun Sen's forces in northern Cambodia.

Hun Sen has control over most of the country but his violent coup has cost Cambodia international support. The United Nations _ which organized the 1993 elections that produced the tense Hun Sen-Ranariddh coalition government _ refused to grant Cambodia's seat in the current General Assembly session to either side.

``On the international scene, we don't have any shame in washing our dirty laundry in public,'' Sihanouk said. ``But our little people suffer and lack everything, including rice and clothes.''

Sihanouk has been at the center of the Cambodian political stage for more than a half-century. Under the 1991 constitution, he has largely symbolic powers as head of state but retains a moral authority with many ordinary Cambodians.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Sam Rainsy said Sunday he will delay his return to Cambodia indefinitely so Hun Sen cannot use his presence to suggest that democratic conditions exist.

Sam Rainsy, who leads one of the four political parties in a coalition opposed to Hun Sen, earlier had said that he would return to Cambodia on Oct. 6, then Oct. 15.

Ranariddh and Sam Rainsy have been lobbying other countries to withhold recognition of Hun Sen's government unless free and fair elections are held next year and political persecution stops.