U.S. seeks Chinese support for Pol Pot trial
April 13, 1998
Web posted at: 6:45 p.m. EDT (2245 GMT)
From World Affairs Correspondent Ralph Begleiter
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A top U.S. diplomat has held high-level talks in Beijing to enlist China's support for an international war crimes trial for Cambodia's notorious
ex-dictator, Pol Pot, if he were to be captured.
It was the first time the topic had been discussed at a high level by the two countries.
The State Department's No. 3 official, Thomas Pickering, under secretary of state for political affairs, gave Chinese officials in Beijing three U.S. suggestions for dealing with Pol Pot if he were caught in Cambodian jungles along the Thailand border.
The State Department said Pickering proposed:
- A trial in Cambodia, which U.S. officials say would be troublesome because of the "fragility" of Cambodia's judicial system.
- A trial in a third country that asserts "universal jurisdiction" in war crimes cases.
- Expansion of the Hague War Crimes Tribunal mandate to cover crimes committed in Cambodia, where Pol Pot is widely considered to have presided over the deaths of millions of Cambodians during the late 1970s.
The State Department says China has not yet responded to the proposals.
China supported Pol Pot's regime in the '70s because he resisted Vietnamese domination of Southeast Asia after the United States was forced to leave Vietnam. The United States also supported Pol Pot's regime at the United Nations and other international arenas, for the same reasons.
If China were to cooperate with the United States on war crimes prosecution for Pol Pot, it would signal a dramatic political improvement in Chinese-American relations.
Chinese President Jiang Zemin visited the United States last fall. President Clinton is scheduled to travel to China later this spring.