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Former Minister Remembers the Fall

Pen Sovann, the former prime minister of the People's Republic of Kampuchea, discussed the fall of the Khmer Rouge on Monday, with a subtle reminder that it had been his United Front for the National Salvation of Kampuchea that had brought the Vietnamese troops in to help against the regime.

"I thoroughly think about this and that, and why I asked the Vietnamese forces to help fight against the Khmer Rouge," Pen Sovann said, as a guest on "Hello VOA," reminiscing on a period of Cambodian history remains contentious.

On Jan. 7, 1979, whose 30th anniversary is on Wednesday, the United Front, formed by Pen Sovann, Heng Samrin and Chea Sim, accompanied Vietnamese soldiers into the capital. Jan. 7 has become a national holiday, although it marked the beginning of a decade-long occupation.

Hun Sen became the foreign minister of the new administration, before taking over as prime minister in 1985.

Pen Sovann said Monday he would let history "reveal itself in the heart of the people."

"But I did not promise to cut land for [Vietnam]," he said, defending his actions ahead of his arrest, in 1981. "I did not agree to other requests by Vietnam, allowing immigration into Cambodia, or send Cambodian men to cut forest on the Cambodia-Thai border. That's why I was arrested an put in the custody in Vietnam."

"It was because of the 1991 Paris Peace Accords that I was released," he said. "Otherwise I would be dead."