Khmer Rouge Must Have Cambodia Role, Quayle Told

Times Staff Writers

On the eve of increasingly significant negotiations aimed at resolving the future of Cambodia, Vice President Dan Quayle was told Monday by Prince Norodom Sihanouk, the Cambodian resistance leader, that the ultra-radical Khmer Rouge will have to be given a role in a new Cambodian government.

Quayle, who is visiting Indonesia on a tour of Asian nations, met with Sihanouk and said afterward that he believes the process of reaching a settlement in the drawn-out Cambodia conflict is “moving along.”

“It’s slow, it’s complicated,” he said. “There are not going to be any quick and easy solutions to the rather intractable problem we’ve had for some time.”


The prime minister of the Vietnamese-backed government of Cambodia, Hun Sen, arrived in Jakarta on Monday night for two days of talks with Sihanouk starting today. The talks are aimed at achieving a political settlement in advance of Vietnam’s troop withdrawal from Cambodia. The Vietnamese have announced that they will complete the withdrawal by Sept. 30.

Name Changed Back

In Phnom Penh, the Hun Sen government announced that the official name of the country, which since the Vietnamese invasion in 1978 has been known officially as the People’s Republic of Kampuchea, had been changed back to Cambodia. The name was Cambodia when Sihanouk ruled, until his ouster in 1970.

The national anthem, flag and state emblem were also changed, and the constitution was amended by the National Assembly in an apparent effort to compromise with resistance demands that the Hun Sen government be dismantled. The changes were widely seen as bargaining chips by Hun Sen on the eve of his discussions with Sihanouk, the nominal leader of the three-faction resistance coalition fighting the Phnom Penh regime.

According to the official Cambodian press agency SPA, Hun Sen said the changes were made “to lay the foundation for rallying all the nation’s forces.”

Hun Sen reportedly called on Sihanouk to join his government in a coalition and promised him genuine power if he would agree to return to Phnom Penh. But Hun Sen reportedly rejected resistance demands for a four-party coalition to govern until free elections can be arranged.

Hun Sen told a news conference in Phnom Penh that dismantling the government would “open the door for the Khmer Rouge to return to power.”


Vietnam’s invasion in 1978 drove the Khmer Rouge government into exile in Thailand. While in power from 1975 until December, 1978, the Khmer Rouge presided over a brutal Communist dictatorship in which more than 1 million Cambodians died of torture, starvation and disease.

U.S. Solution

The United States, which refused to recognize the Vietnamese-installed government, has called for a solution that excludes the Khmer Rouge from dominating any future Cambodian government. Many Western diplomats feel that the Khmer Rouge will refuse to take part in a coalition and will use the transition to seize power again.

A senior White House official traveling with Quayle told reporters that the vice president had expressed support for Sihanouk as the leader of a coalition government in Cambodia and asked about ways to increase the leverage of the non-Communist factions in the resistance coalition.

Quayle, describing Sihanouk as “a unique figure in world history,” told reporters: “We support him, the Soviets support him and the Chinese support him as being the leader of a coalition government in Cambodia.”

The Administration official said Sihanouk, whom he described as “cautiously optimistic” about the talks with Hun Sen, had discussed the possibility of including the Khmer Rouge in the government. He quoted Sihanouk as saying that Khmer Rouge participation is essential unless China can be persuaded to abandon its support of the radical faction.

The official later suggested that Hun Sen may be ready to propose to Sihanouk the creation of a four-party supreme council as a face-saving compromise to answer the resistance demand for dismantling the present Phnom Penh government.


“The key question at this meeting is whether Hun Sen dismantles his government when he sets up this supreme council or whether that council and the Hun Sen government will exist side by side,” the Administration official said.

The remark appeared to confirm that major new proposals about the future of Cambodia are expected to be broached at the Jakarta conference in an effort to avoid civil war when Vietnam’s estimated 70,000 remaining troops leave Cambodia.

Hun Sen’s government has about 30,000 full-time soldiers and a militia of 100,000 arrayed against resistance forces said to number upward of 35,000 for the Khmer Rouge, 10,000 for pro-Sihanouk forces and 15,000 in the non-Communist group headed by Son Sann.

The resistance coalition has held two previous rounds of talks with the Hun Sen government.

The two sides remain divided over the question of who would hold power during the transition period after the Vietnamese withdrawal. There was also disagreement on the composition of an international peacekeeping force to monitor the Vietnamese withdrawal and keep the peace afterward.

On Monday, Sihanouk reiterated his desire that an international conference should be convened in Paris in August to determine the composition of the peacekeeping force.