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Cambodia, Vietnam To Hold Border Talks Next Week

A schoolgirl in Bosso, in the Diffa region of Niger, April 19, 2017. (Photo. Nicolas Pinault / VOA) U
A schoolgirl in Bosso, in the Diffa region of Niger, April 19, 2017. (Photo. Nicolas Pinault / VOA) U

Cambodia will raise a number of sensitive issues with Vietnam in bilateral talks next week, the head of Cambodia’s border committee says.

That will include the alleged border encroachment that led to violent clashes between Cambodian lawmakers and villagers and Vietnamese border security agents on Sunday.

The Vietnam-Cambodia Joint Border Committee will hold a meeting July 6 to July 9 in Siem Reap, where these will be discussed, Var Kim Hong, chairman of the Cambodian Government Border Committee, told VOA Khmer.

Border officials will discuss road-building, pond-digging and the construction of a military outpost by Vietnam, all of which have come under fire as alleged encroachment activities.

“We’re asking them to suspend these activities, because…we have not completely demarcated in any areas or any provinces,” Var Kim Hong said. “We should not make any changes to the environment, and we have to keep the status quo, in accordance to the joint statement of Jan. 17, 1995.”

At least 10 Cambodians were injured in Sunday’s clash, along the border of Svay Rieng province, when opposition officials led a delegation to investigate reported encroachment, only to be pushed back and allegedly beaten by Vietnamese security forces.

Var Kim Hong said next week’s meetings were not in response to that attack, but they would address it. Neither side has the right to cross into non-demarcated zones, he said. “So they had the right to block us,” he said. He encouraged people to “avoid useless incidents and useless clashes.”

In response to calls that Cambodia seek help from the International Court of Justice, Var Kim Hong said the solutions to the border problem are being addressed bilaterally and investigated. “First, we have to evaluate. We don’t just go to the court without knowing anything at all. What would we complain about if we went?”

He dismissed statements by the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party that cite a map and GPS locations as proof of encroachment. “They don’t know the border lines here and there,” he said. “It’s a dream. Leave it for the government to work on and negotiate.”

He also dismissed opposition calls for Cambodia to nullify treaties with Vietnam, both from the 1980s and in 2005. Cambodia gained much in those agreements, and it is working on shoring up the border, he said.