Beijing Reportedly Agrees to Cambodia Talks With Hanoi
China has agreed to have direct talks with Vietnam next month on a possible settlement of the Cambodian guerrilla war, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, son of a key Cambodian leader, said Thursday.
The talks would bring together the two principal non-Cambodian forces in the decade-long conflict for the first time since momentum toward a settlement began building two years ago.
“I have just learned that China has agreed to receive Vietnam’s minister or deputy minister of foreign affairs in early February,” Ranariddh said in a statement broadcast by the radio station of the Cambodian resistance faction headed by his father, Norodom Sihanouk. Foreign Ministers Siddhi Savetsila of Thailand and Nguyen Co Thach of Vietnam concluded two days of talks in Hanoi on Wednesday with a joint statement saying that “both sides agreed that it was necessary for them to work together in accelerating the process toward achieving a political solution to the Cambodian problem.”
The two sides, until now ardent antagonists on the issue, made no mention of Hanoi-Beijing talks.
Ranariddh said in his broadcast, which was monitored here and reported in the Bangkok press, that the Soviet Union had asked Chinese officials to meet with a Vietnamese delegation and that Moscow would initiate talks with Sihanouk if there is a Sino-Vietnamese meeting. The Cambodian issue has been a major stumbling block in Moscow’s efforts to improve relations with Beijing.
China has sponsored the Khmer Rouge guerrillas in the conflict, while the Soviets have backed the Vietnamese.
Last week, Hanoi officials said the withdrawal of all Vietnamese troops from Cambodia could take place as early as September if outside military aid to the resistance guerrillas is halted. But they attached conditions that have been unacceptable to the resistance and its allies.