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UN To Blame for Breakdown: Official

A government spokesman put the failure of tribunal discussions talks earlier this month squarely on the United Nations, saying the Cambodian side had reached an agreement to address corruption allegations before talks broke down.

UN Assistant Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Peter Taksoe-Jensen failed to reach an agreement with his tribunal negotiation counterpart, Council Minister Sok An, in three days of talks, the third visit in four months.

A spokesman for the Council of Ministers, Phay Siphan, said that the two sides had reached an agreement in February that would have pleased international donors and addressed allegations of kickbacks and mismanagement that have left the Cambodian side of the court wanting for funding.

“It’s a draft that we agreed on in every angle in order to make administrative work at the Khmer Rouge tribunal succeed,” he said, adding that a dual mechanism agreed to on both sides, where complaints would be handled by respective sides of the hybrid courts, was also agreeable to donors.

However, observers in the US were critical of the so-called “parallel” system, saying it would not satisfy donors who have been reluctant to fund a tribunal that is not up to international standards.

That has put the UN-backed court in a position where the national side could “whither” if donors do not come forward with more money, David Tolbert, a former special adviser to the tribunal, said in Washington recently. “I am not sure what will happen. I think you have to watch how this plays out.”

No matter what happens next, he said, the UN was unlikely to pull out of the tribunal, which has begun its first trial, for prison chief Duch, and has four other former Khmer Rouge leaders in the dock.

The US, a major supporter of tribunal negotiations, has so far pledged $1.8 million, to the UN side of the court only.