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Mines Remain Obstacle to Border Solution, Official Says

Border officials consider the legacy of landmines the main obstacle to the settling of border disputes with Thailand.

Cambodia should be able to solve these problems, a border official said Thursday, in a way similar to that in 2006, when Cambodia and Vietnam began demarking their borders, marking their shared border with 370 poles so far.

"The landmine issue is serious with Thailand," said Var Kimhong, chairman of the Cambodia-Vietnam Joint Border Commission, who attended a hearing at the National Assembly Thursday. "In 1999 we started talks with Thailand to mark our border. The government does not prolong the issue, to have peace, but the landmine issue has not been changed. We have to be careful. We have difficulty with Thailand with the landmine issue."

Cambodia's border with its neighbors is a rankling issue for many politicians and citizens, who fear encroachment from both Vietnam and Thailand. Meanwhile, Cambodia remains one of the most heavily mined countries in the world, despite years of efforts by the government and other agencies.

Opposition lawmaker Son Chhay, who is head of the National Assembly's committee for foreign affairs, said following Var Kimhong's statements to the press that Cambodia will push demining agencies to rid the western borders of landmines.

Khem Sophoan, director of the Cambodia Mine Action Center, said he could not predict when all the mines might be cleared from the 800-km Thai border.