Secretary-General Visits South-East Asia, Offers to Assist in Ending Conflict.And Visits United Kingdom

Article excerpt

As Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar left Thailand on 1 February--at the end of the first week of a scheduled three-week visit to Asia and the Pacific--he appealed for a dialogue aimed at a negotiated settlement in South-East Asia.

"My appeal to all is the same: Stop confrontation, start talking, make peace", he declared in a statement made at a press conference in Bangkok before leaving for Malaysia.

Mr. Perez de Cuellar arrived in Thailand on 25 January, and visited the Lao People's Democratic Republic and Viet Nam from 28 to 30 January, where he met with top officials before returning to Thailand. On 31 January, in Bangkok, he also met with leaders of Democratic Kampuchea.

After Malaysia, he is scheduled to visit Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand.

The Secretary-General in his Bangkok press conference also said that he "came to this region as a man of peace in order to evaluate the situation and to see how I could help the parties involved try to settle peacefully the tragic conflict of this region", adding he could not impose a solution but had attempted to find common ground. All parties, he said, had told him they wanted peace and supported his efforts.

"It would be naive of me to think that a quick solution to so complex a problem will be easy, or even possible, in the near future. But I have transmitted to the leaders I have visited important messages of peace." He had received, he said, clarifications which would be "very useful in helping each side to understand the other's point of view".

Stating it was time "to move from words to deed", he said he stood ready to assist all involved to find common ground for a dialogue aimed at a negotiated settlement.

In talks with Thailand's Prime Minister, General Prem Tinsulanonda, and Foreign Minister, Air Chief Marshal Siddhi Savetsila, the Secretary-General said he had come to make an evaluation of the situation, adding that something had to be done as soon as possible to start a negotiation process on the problems of the area. Concerning the problem of displaced persons in Thailand, he said he would continue his active role in mobilizing international assistance.

At A dinner in his honour, the Secretary-General said he had followed with increasing concern the tensions and hostilities which had developed in the Thai-Kampuchea border area. Those events had imposed further deprivation and hardship on the civilian population concerned, demonstrating once again the risks of escalation and wider confrontation inherent to all military operations and underscoring the urgent need for a resolute return to the path of dialogue and negotiation.

While he was aware that dialogue could not and should not be an end in itself, yet it had always been, and would remain, "a fundamental instrument of conflict control and resolution", the Secretary-General said. At the same time, he did not under-estimate the obstacles to the definition of a mutually acceptable basis for a productive dialogue, particularly in the present circumstances. …