Southeast Asian foreign ministers ended their 21st annual meeting Tuesday with a strong endorsement of upcoming Cambodian peace talks, but insisted an embargo on aid to Vietnam continue until a settlement is reached in the nearly decade-old conflict.
The ministers of the six-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, differed on whether the region needs U.S. military bases in the Philippines but supported a plan for international economic aid to rebuild the Philippine economy."The foreign ministers reiterated their resolve to hold the Jakarta informal meeting (on Cambodia)," said a joint communique issued at the end of the two-day meeting.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas said at a news conference the informal peace meeting he is hosting is tentatively scheduled for July 25. It will be held in two stages in strict accordance with an agreement reached with Vietnam on July 29, 1987.
According to the agreement, the first stage of negotiations will include the four Cambodian factions and the second will bring in Vietnam, Laos and the ASEAN countries of Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei and the Philippines.
Thai Foreign Minister Siddhi Savetsila, however, said the level and extent of ASEAN participation was still being worked out.
Alatas said "inquiries indicate everyone will be able to attend."
The Cambodian resistance factions led by Prince Norodom Sihanouk, former Prime Minister Son Sani and Khmer Rouge leader Khieu Samphan have already confirmed they will attend, and replies from Hanoi and Phnom Penh are expected shortly, he said.
The talks, which would be the first face-to-face meeting of all the parties to the conflict, have been delayed by resistance demands that Vietnam attend the two-stage meeting from the beginning, a proposition Hanoi has refused to consider.