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Cambodia: Major News Items, 5/8/96 - 5/14/96

Ranariddh Calls For High-Level Talks
Prince Ranariddh, returning from two weeks in France, called again for talks between his FUNCINPEC party and Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party (CPP). The split between the two parties has brought many areas of the government almost to a standstill. Despite a generally conciliatory tone, Ranarridh emphasized that it was FUNCINPEC, and not the CPP, who won the 1993 elections. The Secretary General of FUNCINPEC, Lay Sim Chheang, asked that CPP President Chea Sim organize talks between the two groups. (Tricia Fitzgerald, VOA, May 13.)

Robberies Of Foreigners On Rise
Co-Interior Minister You Hockry said in May that police were planning a series of measures aimed at curbing the recent increase in robberies of foreigners in Phnom Penh. A British aid worker said that "The foreigner is a good target because they don't resist, they don't have guns, and they do have cash, generally speaking." (Leo Dobbs, Reuter, May 14.)

Suspects In Ngor Case Plead Not Guilty
The three alleged gang members suspected of murdering actor Haing Ngor pleaded not guilty in Los Angeles on May 13. The three are being held without bail, and a preliminary hearing has been set for June 4. (Reuter, May 13.)

Foreign Relations
Cambodia and South Korea agreed on May 15 to set up diplomatic missions in Phnom Penh and Seoul. The agreement will further preparations for full normalization between the two countries. (Xinhua, May 15.)

Toll From Contaminated Liquor Rises
It is now believed that at least 45 people have died in Phnom Penh after having consumed a medicinal alcohol which had been laced with insecticide in an attempt to make it stronger. The city health bureau has urged residents not to drink any liquor without the government's official trade marks. (Xinhua, May 8.)

Demining Update
According to the Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC), in the last two and a half years, deminers have destroyed 55,700 anti-personnel mines, 375 anti-tank mines, and 362,245 other explosive devices. (Xinhua, May 15.) Australia has announced that it will invest about $9 million (US) to clear mines in Cambodia and Laos. (Xinhua, May 5.) Germany also pledged $1 million for demining operations. (Xinhua, May 14.) Meanwhile, however, many activist expressed frustration at the lack of progress made in Geneva toward the goal of an outright ban on landmines. UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali said that "I must register my deep disappointment that the progress achieved falls far short of what I had hoped for.... Thousands of children will continue to suffer horrific mutilation. Thousands of farmers working in fields will be blinded or crippled." (IPS, May 6.)


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