Leaders of Cambodia's warring factions, joined by foreign ministers of 18 nations, convened Wednesday to sign a peace treaty meant to end two decades of conflict and clear the way for U.N.-organized elections.
"Cambodia is about to resume its place in the world," declared French President Francois Mitterrand, opening the session at an ornate conference center in Paris.Hours before he spoke, relief workers and the military wing of the Khmer People's National Liberation Front, one of the guerrilla factions, accused Phnom Penh government forces of shelling several positions in northwestern Cambodia.
In Paris, hundreds of Cambodian exiles cheered Prince Norodom Sihanouk, who will head an interim Cambodian government, as he arrived to sign the treaty intended to end 20 years of bloodshed and civil war.
Waving banners reading "Peace in Cambodia" the throng greeted Sihanouk with cheers and applause as he arrived at a conference center a few hours before the signing ceremony.
In Rome, Pope John Paul II called for prayers for the success of the accords and expressed hope that the signatories will keep their commitments in good faith.
Secretary of State James A. Baker III, among those attending the ceremoney, said Wednesday the U.N.-sponsored peace treaty for Cambodia cannot guarantee lasting peace but would give "great hope."
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, whose Vietnamese-installed goverment is one of four Cambodian factions signing the accord, said he "shared the joy of the Cambodian people."