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Thursday, 8 November 1973
Page: 1641

Senator WITHERS (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) -My question is directed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Does the Australian Government recognise the Lon Nol Government in Cambodia? If so, why did the Australian Prime Minister seek an interview with Prince Sihanouk, who is using force in an attempt to overthrow the Lon Nol Government? Are there any other governments with which Australia has diplomatic relations, but is actively giving encouragement to dissident forces to overthrow?

Senator WILLESEE -The answer to the first question is yes, we recognise the Lon Nol Government. Mr Whitlam had conversations with Prince Sihanouk and told him very clearly what the position was- that we recognised the Lon Nol Government. My attitude to this matter is that we will recognise the government which is finally decided upon by the Cambodian people. As long as the Lon Nol Government is there, we will continue to recognise it. Because there is a war going on, we do not try to look into a crystal ball and say what will finally happen. It is nothing unusual to talk to somebody who is not necessarily the head of state. When visitors come here they visit Opposition members who are here.

As to whether we are actively assisting dissident forces to overthrow, we are not actively assisting the Khmer Rouge. We are not actively assisting Prince Sihanouk. I myself do not know whether, if the Lon Nol Government fell- and it still has not fallen and it may not, I do not know- the Khmer Rouge would want somebody else or whether it would want Prince Sihanouk. He has made several statements on what his future might be in his own country of Cambodia. The third question was: Do we go round trying to upset governments? Of course we do not. It is a matter for the people of that country to decide who is going to govern them, and then it becomes a question with the change of governmentas happened in Chile- whether, within certain parameters, you recognise the new government.

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