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Cambodia leader, opposition chief hold 2nd day of talks, impasse remains


Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and opposition party leader Sam Rainsy narrowed their differences in a second day of substantive talks Tuesday, but spokesmen for their parties said more such talks are needed in coming days to resolve the country's post-election crisis.

Prak Sokhon, spokesman for Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party, which won the July 28 general election according to the official results, told reporters the two party leaders made some headway in their three hours of talks but "have not yet agreed 100 percent."

He said Hun Sen and Sam Rainsy, who also met for five hours on Monday, will hold more talks later "to reach an agreement that would be accepted by both sides."

Yim Sovann, spokesman for Sam Rainsy's Cambodia National Rescue Party, which insists it would have won the election if it was conducted fairly, similarly said Tuesday's meeting "has narrowed down the gap of differences between the two parties."

"But since there are many remaining issues, more discussion is needed until Sept. 23," he said, referring to next Monday's scheduled start of the first session of the newly elected National Assembly.

The CNRP has threatened to boycott the session if its demand for an investigation into election irregularities is not met.

The official results of the July 28 election show the CPP won 68 seats in the 123-seat assembly and the CNRP got 55 seats.

Sources who were at Tuesday's meeting said the two sides discussed reforms of the National Election Committee and the judicial system, among other topics.

While the talks were going on, tens of thousands of opposition supporters protested in the capital for a third day.

Yim Sovann said the protest will end Tuesday as previously set. He suggested that whether or not to have more protests in the future will depend on the development of the situation.

The protests went off peacefully except for an incident Sunday in which security forces fired water cannon and tear gas at protesters after they threw rocks at police, and a clash elsewhere Sunday that resulted in one death and seven people injured.

Before starting their substantive talks Monday, Hun Sen and Sam Rainsy met briefly over the weekend at the Royal Palace, at the initiative of King Norodom Sihamoni, for the first time since the July 28 general election.

But the two rivals did not have in-depth discussions then.