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Hun Sen Denies Loss of Land to Border Encroachment

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks during a session at the World Economic Forum On East Asia in Jakarta , Indonesia, Monday, April 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Thursday that neither he nor his government has caused any loss of territory to bordering countries.

His statement comes amid a diplomatic row with Vietnam, which has been working on ponds, a road and a military outpost in contested border areas.

Hun Sen has sent letters to the US, the UK and France, along with the UN, seeking a map establishing the borders in 1964. The premier said in a speech Thursday he hopes those maps will assuage opposition supporters calling for more action on the border issue.

“It is unfair to me or my government,” he said. “We have to settle this problem and cannot let them accuse us, despite our explanation and showing the maps. Therefore, we have to request the maps from abroad, the maps made by the French and the specialists from France.”

Hun Sen said he will allow people to compare maps once the countries respond to his requests. Earlier this month, he had Var Kimhong, chairman of the Joint Border Committee, show maps from the pre-Khmer Rouge era to journalists and opposition lawmakers. But two opposition lawmakers dismissed those maps, saying they were made by Vietnam.

Hun Sen also used his speech Thursday to criticize the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, for threatening to file a complaint against National Assembly President Heng Samrin, who refused a request to halt border demarcation this week.

Hun Sen said it was undermining the “culture of dialogue” he has been developing with Rescue Party President Sam Rainsy. “This is a sign of doubt,” he said.

Rescue Party spokesman Yem Ponhearith said opposition officials have a duty to inform the government of perceived wrongdoing. “The ‘culture of dialogue’ does not mean we have to stop the whole national system of working,” he said.