Marshal Lon Nol, President of the Khmer Republic, presented medals for bravery to members of the Army on Wednesday (November 28) at Phnom Baset, 16 miles (24 kilometres) north west of Phnom Penh.
Marshal Lon Nol, President of the Khmer Republic, presented medals for bravery to members of the Army on Wednesday (November 28) at Phnom Baset, 16 miles (24 kilometres) north west of Phnom Penh. For the first time, he said that he was ready to meet the deposed Prince Sihanouk for peace talks - but only on condition that all North Vietnamese troops withdrew from the country.
Lon Nol's arrival was attended by the strictest security precautions - particularly because there has been fighting with Communist forces along Highway Five on which Phnom Baset is situated.
The President's willingness to talk to prince Sihanouk is a surprising step. In July he had said that Prince was not an acceptable negotiator. In a United Nations debate the following day (Thursday), Prince Sihanouk said that more than 90% of the country was "already liberated".
SYNOPSIS: President Lon Nol flew to Phnom Basset sixteen miles northwest of Phnom Penh on Wednesday. His visit was attended by strict security precaution
There has been fighting along Highway Five on which Phnom Basset is situated. Recently the President barely escaped death when the Presidential Palace was dive-bombed by a young Air Force Lieutenant. At the ceremony medals were presented to young soldiers who had shown outstanding bravery in fighting against communist insurgents. At the moment, things are quiet but fighting is expected to resume when the rainy season ends.
After the presentation Marshal Lon Nol made a speech. He announced for the first time that he was ready to meet the deposed leader, Prince Sihanouk, for peace talks - provided only that all North Vietnamese troops withdrew from the country. There are estimated to be seven thousand North Vietnamese troops in the Khmer Republic at the moment.
In July, he offered six conditions for negotiating with what he called 'the other aide'.
On Thursday, twenty-one United Nations delegations put forward a proposal that the Khmer delegations should be replaced by one representing the exiled Prince Sihanouk. Prince Sihanouk said that more than ninety per cent of the country had already been liberated, and that his government was now functioning.