HANOI, Vietnam -- U.N. Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar took his shuttle for peace to Vietnam today as Hanoi charged the United Nations had 'bloody hands' in its handling of the Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia.
Perez de Cuellar arrived more than an hour late after a stop in Laos and was met by Vietnamese Foreign Minister Nguyen Co Thach, who waited for the U.N. chief at the state guest house, a colonial-style palace in downtown Hanoi.
The secretary general, who left Bangkok this morning on a diplomatic shuttle to seek peace in Indochina, earlier met in the Lao capital of Vientiane with Foreign Minister Phoune Sipaseuth.
Aides said Perez de Cuellar raised the thorny question of the 560 American airmen still listed as missing in action in Laos. They said the discussion was requested by U.N. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick.
Perez de Cuellar stressed the 'humanitarian value' of any Lao assistance to the United States in resolving the fate of the MIAs, the aides said.
Most of the 2,550 Americans listed as MIA in Indochina were lost in Vietnam and the question will also assuredly be raised in the secretary general's talks with Thach and 78-year-old Prime Minister Pham Van Dong.
But the main thrust of the talks will be Cambodia, occupied by Vietnam six years ago and currently the largest single source of regional tension.
Thach greeted Perez de Cuellar by telling him the visit would 'make a contribution of great importance to peace,' but just moments earlier the foreign minister sharply criticized the U.N.'s Cambodia policy in remarks to journalists.
'The United Nations has bloody hands' in supporting the three-group rebel coalition based in western Cambodia, including Pol Pot's notorious Khmer Rouge, he said.
Thach also charged that Cambodian refugee camps maintained by the U.N. along the tense Thai-Cambodian border, the scene of recent fighting and mass civilian panic, were 'a facade for covering the crimes' of guerrillas in the area.
The U.N. chief left Bangkok after spending Sunday touring the Thai-Cambodian border in preparation for his talks with Vietnamese leaders. He promised to 'exhaust all possibilities' for peace in the region.
Western diplomats in Bangkok who monitor the Cambodia situation gave Perez de Cuellar's peace mission little chance of success. The trip came amid Hanoi's annual dry season military offensive against Khmer rebels based near the Thai-Cambodian border.
Vietnam invaded neighboring Cambodia and ousted the communist Khmer Rouge government in January 1979, installing the pro-Hanoi Heng Samrin regime in the Cambodian capital. The rebels are battling to end the Vietnamese occupation.
Despite worldwide condemnation, Hanoi has stationed some 160,000 troops in Cambodia and moved in thousands of Vietnamese settlers to tighten its grip on the country.
The United Nations and most non-communist nations have refused to recognize the Heng Samrin regime and, instead, view a three-party rebel coalition that includes the Khmer Rouge as the legitimate government of Cambodia.
Coalition members are the Khmer Rouge, the most powerful of the three groups; a non-communist group led by former Cambodian ruler Prince Norodom Sihanouk; and the non-communist Khmer Peoples National Liberation Front, or KPNLF.
Thailand and other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations insist that all Vietnamese troops be withdrawn from Cambodia and the Cambodian people be allowed to freely choose their own government.
ASEAN strongly supports the anti-Vietnamese coalition government headed by Sihanouk, which receives arms and supplies from China.
Western diplomats said they did not believe Vietnam would withdraw from Cambodia so long as the Chinese-backed Khmer Rouge remained a part of the coalition and could return to power.
Before his departure for Vietnam, the Thai government told the U.N. chief he must take a firm stand on the Cambodia question, the Bangkok Post reported today, quoting an unnamed source in the Foreign Ministry.
'We insisted that Mr. Perez de Cuellar should not ignore the issue nor remain impartial, as one country has been invaded by another that has violated the U.N. resolution,' the newspaper quoted the source as saying.