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Senior US Official Calls for Both Parties To Resume Negotiations

U.S. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Scot Marciel speaks during a press conference in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013. Scot made his press conference on Monday before wrapping up his two-day official visit to Cambodia. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
A senior US diplomat on Wednesday urged the ruling and opposition parties to rejoin negotiations and solve the country’s ongoing political deadlock.

Scot Marciel, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs for the US State Department, met with Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong, following meetings with other government officials, the opposition and leaders of civil society organizations.

US embassy spokesman Sean McIntosh said Marciel’s message was encouragement for negotiations, “to discuss how they are going to move forward and begin implementing the necessary reforms for the Cambodian people.”

Kem Sokha, vice president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, said the party is open to talks with the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, but not “one-sided threats.”

“We are prepared to have a meeting with the CPP if the political situation changes,” he said. “If the CPP wants to talk, they should first release 23 detainees in jail first.”

He was referring to labor protesters who were arrested last month and are still being held, following a violent crackdown by authorities.

Koy Kuong, a spokesman for the Foreign Affairs Ministry, said Hor Namhong told Marciel the government was open to talks, but the opposition needed to end their boycott of the National Assembly first.