JAKARTA, Indonesia -- After two years of difficult negotiations, the four Cambodian factions agreed yesterday on a United Nations framework for a comprehensive peace settlement, the Indonesian foreign minister said here last night.
"All four have indicated that they have accepted the Permanent Five as the basis for a settlement of the conflict," the Indonesian official, Ali Alatas, said at the end of the first formal day of talks aimed at a political settlement in the country, where there has been civil war for most of the last 20 years.
The United Nations plan, which is a guideline to a settlement that still must be fleshed out by the Cambodian parties, resulted from eight months of negotiations by the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. They include the main sponsors of the various factions -- China, the Soviet Union and the United States -- plus Britain and France, which served as co-chairs of these talks.
Yesterday also marked the first meeting of an official U.S. representative, Ambassador John Monjo, with Hun Sen, the prime minister of the Vietnamese-installed government in Cambodia. Washington announced last week that it would begin direct talks with Phnom Penh, a dialogue that was begun at the ambassadorial level in Vientiane, Laos.
Hun Sen, speaking after a 40-minute meeting with Mr. Monjo, said that he accepted the U.N. plan as "the framework for a comprehensive solution."
He said that the plan, which calls for a major U.N. role in administering Cambodia before new elections, had to be elaborated upon in negotiations, a fact stressed also by Mr. Alatas and the French co-chairman, Edwige Avice, a deputy foreign minister, in their formal opening remarks.
But Hun Sen said he was optimistic that the talks here, which quickly broke into meetings of the co-chairmen with the individual factions, would have a successful outcome.
The plan has already been accepted by the three-party opposition coalition fighting Hun Sen's Vietnamese-installed government. The coalition, led by Prince Norodom Sihanouk, is made up of his followers; those of another non-Communist, former Prime Minister Son Sann; and the communist Khmer Rouge, during whose rule, from 1975 to 1979, more than 1 million Cambodians died by execution and famine. Vietnam invaded the country and installed a government in 1979.
Khieu Samphan, the Khmer Rouge representative and vice president of the anti-government coalition, said yesterday that he was also optimistic.
"Peace is closer than ever," he said.
He said he had "no reservations" about the U.N. plan, which would establish a national governing council, under U.N. supervision, to administer the country. The United Nations would also set up and monitor free elections, possibly sending a military force as peacekeepers. The four factions must approve the plan, in whole or in part, and it is expected that there will be disagreements.
The status of Prince Sihanouk, who announced Saturday from Beijing that he was too ill to attend the meeting and was communicating with Jakarta by fax, remained unclear, adding a note of uncertainty.
Senior Western and Asian diplomats said yesterday that the Chinese prime minister, Li Peng, had urged the prince to come here but that he refused at the last minute, because he was offended by some remarks of Hun Sen.
The diplomats said that Prince Sihanouk and the Chinese deputy foreign minister, Qi Huaiyuan, then had a long and bitter discussion, which ended with the prince saying that he was packing his bags to go to his second home, in Pyongyang, North Korea.