25 September, 1997


I am pleased to announce that on 29 September I will be attending a meeting convened by the Foreign Ministers of Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand in New York to discuss the international community's approach to recent developments in Cambodia and the holding of free and fair national elections in that country next year.

I have been strongly supportive of such a meeting taking place and am looking forward to meeting my ASEAN colleagues, as well as a number of my international counterparts, who also share Australia's interest in the restoration of peace and stability in Cambodia.

The meeting is a significant initiative. It presents an important opportunity for members of the international community, in particular major aid donors like Australia, to meet the ASEAN Foreign Ministers, and for the regional and international community as a whole to focus on what is now the key issue in Cambodia, namely how best to ensure that the national elections, to be held next May, are as free and fair as possible.

Australia looks to the meeting to continue the consensus of approach on Cambodia which emerged out of the recent ASEAN meetings in Kuala Lumpur, with a particular focus now on international support for the electoral process in Cambodia. Australia is already providing technical support for the elections.

The meeting will send a clear message to the Cambodian Government that the international community is concerned to see a credible election take place and is prepared to assist in that process. Participants in the meeting will be looking to the Cambodian Government to take concrete action on its preparations for the elections, and, in particular, to deal with the issue of participation in the elections.

Australia has made clear to the Cambodian Government that we expect the Government to live up to its commitments on upholding the principles of the Paris Peace Accords and the Cambodian constitution, protecting human rights and holding elections with broadly based political participation. These are points I will emphasise at the meeting on 29 September and also in my meetings with the Cambodian parties and other key players during the course of my visit to New York.

Further information: Innes Willox (02) 6277 7500/

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