BANGKOK, Thailand — In a historic breakthrough after 11 years of conflict, the four warring parties in Cambodia announced Monday that they had reached agreement to share power in a national council to run the country until the United Nations can arrange a cease-fire and hold free elections.
After two days of talks in Jakarta, Indonesia, the four factions in the Cambodian conflict announced their acceptance of a peace plan worked out last month by the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council that will give the world body unprecedented powers in the running of the country.
They also agreed on the creation of a 12-member Supreme National Council, with a possible 13th member as chairman, which will take over the executive authority in the country and will officially hold Cambodia's seat at the United Nations.
The four factions appeared at a news conference to announce the agreement. They included the Vietnamese-backed Premier Hun Sen and representatives of the three guerrilla factions: Khieu Samphan, the foreign affairs official of the Khmer Rouge; Prince Norodom Ranariddh, representing his father, the exiled Prince Norodom Sihanouk; and Son Sann, a former prime minister and leader of the third rebel faction.
Officials emphasized that considerable negotiations remain to iron out details of the agreement. The four sides did not set a date for the first meeting of the national council or say how it would hand over the administration to the United Nations.
"We have not reached peace yet . . . but we have the framework," said Son Sann. And Khieu Samphan told the news conference that the establishment of the council "in itself is not a solution" but a way to get the United Nations involved in administering Cambodia.
Yet the agreement, although not precise in all details--including a date for a cease-fire--was the first framework for peace to be achieved by all four parties to the conflict.
The first indication that the 11 years of violence may be near an end came last month when the Security Council's five permanent members--the United States, the Soviet Union, China, France and Great Britain--agreed on a formula under which the United Nations would settle the war. Hope gained momentum soon afterward when the three-party guerrilla coalition dominated by the Khmer Rouge approved the U.N. formula in principle.
According to the formula worked out at the talks and announced Monday, the Phnom Penh government will receive six seats on the national council, while each of the three guerrilla factions will get two seats. Sihanouk has been proposed as chairman, but he said in a message from Beijing that he was ill and could not participate in politics for six months.
"We have now entered a new era when a comprehensive political settlement can be achieved," said Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas, who chaired the talks with Edwige Avice of the French Foreign Office. "A lot of work is still ahead."
The agreement said the four factions accepted the U.N. plan for Cambodia "in its entirety."
Under the plan, U.N. forces will separate the warring factions and supervise a cease-fire. At the same time, a U.N. civil administration will take over the running of key ministries such as the police and army to ensure evenhanded treatment of all parties in the interim period before an election can be held. U.N. officials have estimated that it will be one of the biggest peacekeeping operations in U.N. history.
During its nearly four years in power, the Khmer Rouge tried to transform the country into a radical agrarian society, with an estimated 1 million people dying in the resulting upheaval. The Khmer Rouge was ousted in 1979 by Vietnam, whose forces invaded and installed Hun Sen in power. Vietnamese troops officially withdrew last year, but on Monday, even after signing the agreement, Khieu Samphan accused the Phnom Penh regime of continuing to harbor Vietnamese troops.
The agreement marks a major concession on the part of the Khmer Rouge, which had previously refused to participate in an interim regime unless all four parties wielded equal power.
The Chinese-supported Khmer Rouge is easily the most powerful of the three guerrilla groups in the country and recently has scored a number of military victories against the Phnom Penh regime, seizing control of the countryside and leaving only the cities in the hands of the Hun Sen government.