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Volume 178: debated on Wednesday 24 October 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he last met representatives of the Government of China to discuss the future of Cambodia.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs discussed Cambodia with his Chinese colleague, Mr. Qian Qichen, at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on 28 September.

Will the Minister comment on continuing reports that the SAS is involved in training the Khmer Rouge to lay land mines in Cambodia? In view of the excellent reputation of John Pilger, the journalist who is making these reports, and the way he has spoken the truth about Cambodia for years, does the Minister realise that the public are horrified by the prospect that the British Government are supporting militarily the return of the Khmer Rouge?

The British Government have never given support or help of any kind to the Khmer Rouge.

Will my hon. Friend accept that it is time that the free civilised world entered into meaningful discussions directly with the Administration in Cambodia and stopped playing around with Prince Sihanouk and the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot? That man is a tyrant and must never be allowed to set foot in the capital of Cambodia again to do what he did to the people of that wonderful country.

That man was a cruel tyrant and we condemn him. I urge my hon. Friend to recognise the work of the five permanent members of the Security Council in their new initiatives and the formation of the supreme national council which has membership from all the different leading figures in Cambodia.

Further to the question of the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton), will the Government make it clear to the Chinese Government and to the House that they will oppose the continued illegal representation of Pol Pot at the United Nations and any representative of any coalition which includes Pol Pot? Will they make it clear that in the foreign policy of the United Kingdom the genocide of the killing fields will never be forgotten?

Most certainly, the genocide of the killing fields will never be forgotten. The Cambodian seat at the United Nations is not at present occupied. The supreme national council is supported by the five permanent members of the Security Council and all the factions in Cambodia. That is the new initiative and it will be up to the supreme national council to appoint an ambassador to the United Nations.

Does my hon. Friend agree that the interests of the people of Cambodia are not best served by exaggerations and distortions which can appear in television programmes, and nor will they be served by the return of anything which included Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge? Does my hon. Friend agree also that the only part of Cambodia that has any sort of normal life now is that under the control of the Phnom Penh Government? Will he do what he can to ensure that the world community recognises that and pours into that part of the country the aid and investment that is so necessary?

Britain has committed up to £2 million worth of humanitarian aid to Cambodia. The new development quite different from what prevailed in earlier months of this year is the resolution of the United Nations permanent five—supported by the United Nations General Assembly, the Hun Sen Government and all the factions in Cambodia—to make progress in discussions to form the supreme national council. We should all be pushing for that because we all wish to see an end to the suffering in that country and for those wretched people to be able to live life in peace and determine their future.