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Vietnam Offers Military Training to Cambodia

Vietnam’s deputy defense minister on Monday offered aid in military training to Cambodian soldiers and officers, at a time when Cambodian and Thai troops are entangled in a protracted border dispute in the north.

Maj. Gen. Nguyen Chi Vinh made the offer to Prime Minister Hun Sen following a ceremony for 22 senior military officials who recently returned from PhD and master’s programs in military science at the Army Institute of Vietnam, in Hanoi.

“He is ready to help for human resources development in the field of national defense and to strengthen the cooperation between the Cambodian Defense Ministry and the Vietnamese Defense Ministry,” Hun Sen’s spokesman, Ieng Sophaleth, told reporters Monday. “Vietnam and the Vietnamese army are ready to learn and share experiences between Cambodia and Vietnam, with the purpose of strengthening and building-up the capacity of territorial defense and the defense of respective sovereignties.”

Military officials have received training in Vietnam since the 1980s, when Cambodia was under Vietnamese occupation following the ouster of the Khmer Rouge, in 1979.

“From 2001 to 2009, there have been 170 Cambodian military senior officials going to study at the institute,” Nguyen Duc Xe, director of the Army Institute, said in remarks Monday.

The 22 graduates, all officers, wrote theses that “are not made for offensives to invade any countries,” Hun Sen said at the ceremony Monday, “but they are just about management and order of the military, to defend national sovereignty. This shows that Cambodia is not thinking about sending its troops to invade any countries.”

Graduates of the Army Institute who were recognized on Monday included Gen. Pol Saroeun, commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, and his deputy, Gen. Kun Kim, both of whom earned PhDs.

Pol Saroeun wrote his thesis on the defense of Military Region 3, which comprises the provinces of Kampong Speu, Kampot, Kep, Koh Kong, Preah Sihanouk and Takeo. Kun Kim wrote about Military Region 5, which includes the provinces of Banteay Meanchey, Battambang and Pursat, as well as Pailin.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Thai and Cambodian troops have been entrenched along the northern border of Preah Vihear province since July, when Preah Vihear temple was included on a list of World Heritage sites, sparking protests in Thailand. Talks have failed to bring about a resolution, and troops have clashed at least twice, leading to deaths on each side.