>Cambodia seeks Japan’s help in Sudan peace mission

>Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen walks past a demining unit, during a ceremony before the departure of the Cambodian humanitarian demining unit for the UN peace keeping operation in Sudan, in Phnom Penh April 12, 2006. (Reuters)

03/08/2008
BY KAZUTO TSUKAMOTO, THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
Cambodia wants Japan’s support for the Southeast Asian nation’s first U.N. peacekeeping mission, which is becoming increasingly tense due to fighting in Sudan, Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Tea Banh said Friday.
Tea, who is also the Cambodian national defense minister, told The Asahi Shimbun in Tokyo that Cambodian troops sent to southern Sudan “have not yet been directly attacked, but the situation is tense.”
About 300 Cambodian Army corps engineers have been sent to Malakal in southern Sudan, mainly for demining, since April 2006, according to Tea.
The Cambodian troops, which have been cooperating with troops from India and Bangladesh, have removed a total of 1,613 mines so far, he said.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura has proposed that the Self-Defense Forces be sent to Sudan to participate in the U.N. peacekeeping mission. But the security situation will likely lead to further calls in Japan for a more cautious approach.
“Cambodia will continue to fulfill its duties in peacekeeping operations with the cooperation of Japan,” Tea said.
He asked for continued support from Japan in terms of fostering human personnel for peacekeeping operations.
“Japan sent a peacekeeping mission to Cambodia and now Cambodia has sent such a mission to Sudan,” Tea said. “If Japan and Cambodia can cooperate in Sudan, it would mean a new page in the history of peacekeeping cooperation between Japan and Cambodia.”
Japan first sent SDF members on a U.N. peacekeeping mission in 1992 to Cambodia.
But in Sudan, the situation is so unstable that the legal conditions under which SDF members can be dispatched on peacekeeping missions may not be met.
For example, SDF members cannot be sent on peacekeeping mission to areas that are considered combat zones.
In addition to mortar attacks near where the Cambodian troops are housed, fighting has broken out about 6 kilometers from a site where mines were being removed, Tea said.
The fighting forced the Cambodian troops to suspend peacekeeping activities for 15 days.
The troops have been helping local residents who were victims of the mortar attack.
(IHT/Asahi: March 8,2008)
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