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Meeting between ASEAN and the 'Friends of Cambodia'

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FA 142 23 November 1997

Meeting Between ASEAN and the "Friends o f Cambodia"

I am very pleased at the outcome o f today’s meeting, hosted by Philippines Foreign Secretary Siazon on behalf of the ASEAN Troika, between ASEAN and those members of the "Friends of Cambodia" currently in Vancouver.

Also present at the meeting were the Foreign Ministers of Thailand. New Zealand and the Republic of Korea, as well as senior representatives from Indonesia, the United States, Japan. Canada and the UN.

The meeting was unanimous in its support for the holding of free, fair and credible elections in Cambodia on schedule and emphasised the international community's ongoing interest in seeing technical preparations put in place for the elections, without further delay.

Australia is alreadv providing technical assistance for the elections, and a number of other countries indicated that they also intended to provide assistance. International support is vital if preparations are to be put in place in time. I also call on the Cambodian Government to pass crucial electoral law and set up an independent National Electoral Commission in order

to facilitate preparations for the elections.

The meeting welcomed a number o f recent positive developments in Cambodia, including the assurances given by the Cambodian Government to guarantee the safety of returning Cambodian politicians and the U N 's role in monitoring their safety and full resumption ot political activity.

We were particularly pleased at the decision made by Prince Ranariddh in Bangkok on 21 November to send a 15 - member advance delegation of political exiles to Cambodia in earl> December to undertake a fact-finding mission, and we hope this will be the prelude to the return to Cambodia of all politicians currently overseas to participate fully in their country's election.

The meeting also welcomed signs that a political solution is being developed which will allow Prince Ranariddh to return to participate in the electoral process should he so choose. I would encourage all the Cambodian parties to move forward on a compromise which would assist in the credibility of the electoral process.

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Australia has been a strong supporter of the diplomatic efforts of the ASEAN Troika and its close liaison with the "Friends of Cambodia". The recent positive developments in Cambodia are to be welcomed, and demonstrate both the effectiveness of ASEAN diplomacy and the important role that the international community continues to play with respect to Cambodia.

There was considerable optimism at today’s meeting that Cambodia is now moving in the - right direction. We look now to the Cambodian Government to live up to its commitments to ensure free, fair and credible elections take place and restore much-needed peace and stability to that country.