Cambodian leaders welcome ASEAN mediation
Political crisis, human rights dispute mark forum's end
July 29, 1997
Web posted at: 10:16 a.m. EDT (1416 GMT)
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (CNN) -- Agreement on Asian mediation
for Cambodia and disagreement over human rights dominated the
final day of talks between Asian and Western ministers
The issues were addressed during a final news conference that
wrapped up talks between foreign ministers of the nine-member
Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its 10
Western dialogue partners, many of which are former colonial
rulers of ASEAN nations.
Malaysian Foreign Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced
that Cambodian Foreign Minister Ung Huot had faxed a letter
saying that Cambodian Second Prime Minister
ASEAN mediation for Cambodia.
A L S O :
Pol Pot looks frail in TV footage
The letter quotes Hun Sen as saying that a new ASEAN mission
can come any time it wants, preferably this week, to help
solve the Cambodian political crisis.
That crisis was sparked earlier this month, when Hun Sen
ousted First Prime Minister Prince
Ranariddh fled the country and has been campaigning for
international support to pressure Hun Sen to cede some power
and implement political reforms.
Commenting on Hun Sen's letter, Abdullah said, "It means now
we have a role to play and we will definitely do all we can
to help. It is in the interest of everyone."
Hun Sen had rejected a previous ASEAN peace proposal,
accusing the organization of interfering in Cambodia's
ASEAN delayed admission of Cambodia as a new member because
of the crisis.
However, at the annual ASEAN summit in Kuala Lumpur that
preceded the talks with Western partners, ASEAN did admit
Laos and Burma as new members. The other member nations are
Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore,
Thailand and Vietnam.
Cambodia is now the only Southeast Asian nation which is not
a member of ASEAN.
Another key issue addressed at the news conference was human
rights. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad last week
called for a review of the U.N. Universal Declaration of
Human Rights, saying Western ideas of human rights focused
too much on individual rights and not enough on the need for
The country's foreign minister said Tuesday that Western
nations had to accept the fact that Asian nations, too, held
firm views on the issue.
"Sometimes if there is too much freedom exercised then
democracy will be destroyed," Abdullah said.
However, U.S. Undersecretary of State Stuart Eizenstat
replied that human rights values were "universal values."
"Respecting the individual is not contrary to social
stability or economic prosperity," he said.
U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright also has focused
on the human rights issue in her attacks on Burma.
Albright has issued a barrage of critical statements about
the lack of freedom of movement, freedom of speech and
political rights in Burma.
On Tuesday, Eizenstat repeated U.S. attacks against Burma
over its role in drug trafficking, saying Burma was
laundering drug money with impunity, and that drug
traffickers had become investors in the country's economy.
Burmese Foreign Minister
on Tuesday hit back at
media and Western criticism of the government in Rangoon.
"The press has been writing wrong reports based on the
context of people opposed to the government," he said.
"Burma has been cooperating with the human rights commission
in Geneva and the United Nations," he said.
Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy said he would
recommend that his government impose new economic sanctions
against Burma because of its refusal to introduce democratic
Canadian officials said sanctions could include a ban on
investment and trade curbs, including higher tariffs.
Jakarta Bureau Chief Maria Ressa and Reuters contributed to this report.
Related sites:Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
- ASEAN - the official website of Association of the Association of
South East Asian Nations
- ASEAN InfoSite - summary of pertinent information to ASEAN, as well as informative links of interest
- ASEAN - Institute - Institute for the Promotion of Scientific, Economic and Technical Cooperation with ASEAN Countries
- ASEAN Information Superhighway
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