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Foreign Minister Leaves Tribunal Out of UN Remarks

Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong addressed the UN General Assembly Monday, offering Cambodia's assistance in landmine removal to other countries, a modest solution on Iraq and a nod of thanks to the importance of climate change recognition.

He did not include mention of the UN-sponsored, $56 million Khmer Rouge tribunal.

Cambodia has had a lot of post-war experience to share with countries that suffer under landmines, he told the nations of the world, and would be willing to provide soldiers for removal of the devices similar to a recent mission to Sudan.

He also called on greenhouse gas producing countries to slowly limit their emissions.

Low-lying Cambodia and its Southeast Asian neighbors are susceptible to the rising sea levels and monsoon shifts that experts warn climate change could bring.

Cambodia's wartime experience demonstrated that a negotiated solution for Iraq's Muslim factions will pave the road to reconciliation, he said.

"Based on our own experience, the only option to bring peace and stability to Iraq, I believe, is national reconciliation with a win-win policy among the Shiites and Sunnies," he said.

Hor Namhong also talked about the war on terror, the dangers of weapons of mass destruction, the UN's Millennium Development Goals and the need to reform the UN. However the foreign minister neither mentioned the tribunal nor the situation in Burma.

Speaking to VOA by telephone from Phnom Penh, opposition leader Sam Rainsy said the minister should have used this important occasion to brief the world body on the tribunal's shortcomings.

"The Cambodian Foreign Minister should have reported to the UN the problems Cambodia is facing in the tribunals," Sam Rainsy said.

On Burma, the opposition leader said Cambodia should have reaffirmed its position against the junta.

Last week in New York, the Asean foreign ministers met with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and afterwards issued a strong statement condemning the Burmese government for its bloody crackdown on monks and pro-democracy demonstrators.

In an interview with VOA Khmer Monday morning, Hor Namhong did address the Burma crackdown and the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

Prime Minister Hun Sen was prepared to help Burma resolve its situation, he said, without elaborating.

The tribunal was "proceeding nicely," he said, adding that he expected more cadre to be arrested now that the chief ideologue of the regime, Nuon Chea, was detained.

"After Nuon Chea, there will be other Khmer Rouge leaders who will be summoned for questioning," he said.

The health of Nuon Chea and the other tribunal defendant, Duch, was a concern, he said.

"I think about it too," he said. "I hope that when they detain them, there will be maximum health observance, paying maximum attention to their health so that those people will remain as witnesses or as being responsible for the most brutal genocide in mankind's history."