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KHMER ROUGE READIES MAJOR ASSAULT

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The Communist Khmer Rouge said Saturday it is preparing to attack a major town 75 miles north of the Cambodian capital.

The announcement came three days after the United States announced it was withdrawing recognition of the tripartite guerrilla coalition, of which the Khmer Rouge is the strongest member, and would open talks with Vietnam on ending the Cambodian war.Khmer Rouge radio said hundreds of civilian supporters - including children - were carrying supplies, weapons and ammunition to guerrillas preparing to strike at Kompong Thom, the capital of the central province of the same name. The Khmer Rouge and non-Communist guerrillas loyal to Prince Norodom Sihanouk have seized wide areas of the province in recent months.

The two groups are allied with Son Sann's Khmer People's National Liberation Front in a coalition fighting the Vietnamese-installed government. The Khmer Rouge killed hundreds of thousands of people during its nearly four-year rule before Vietnam's late 1978 invasion installed the current government in Phnom Penh.

In Washington, Japanese officials said Secretary of State James A. Baker III has sought their help in trying to persuade China to restrain the Khmer Rouge. A senior Japanese delegation is scheduled to visit China next week.

U.S. intelligence has reported that China annually gives the Khmer Rouge about $100 million in aid.

The Phnom Penh government on Saturday urged the Khmer Rouge and China to return to peace talks.

"We hope the Khmer Rouge and their patron in Beijing will return to the negotiating table to resolve the Cambodian problem by peaceful means," the SPK news agency said.

As first steps, it said, they should cooperate with an agreement reached last month in Tokyo to begin a cease-fire, stop receiving foreign military aid and participate in free elections under U.N. supervision.