Cambodia, Vietnam Seek Help From Abroad in Border Dispute

Cambodia and Vietnam will invite international border experts to help settle ongoing boundary disputes between the two countries, an official said on Monday.

The last Joint Border Committee meeting in August ended in a stalemate, with Hanoi denying the Cambodian position that the neighbors should revert to boundaries as they existed at the time of colonial independence.

Koy Pisey, Cambodia’s deputy chairman of the Joint Border Committee, said on Monday that a three-day meeting last week in Ho Chi Minh City concluded with the two sides in agreement over about 83 percent of the border.

“We need international experts to help draw the borders for the two areas that we have not yet reached agreement on,” she said, citing unsettled boundaries in Ratanakkiri and Svay Rieng provinces.

Prime Minister Hun Sen is hoping for French experts to help settle what has been one of the country’s biggest issues over the past two years, Ms. Pisey added.

Last year, the opposition CNRP launched a campaign to draw attention to Vietnamese incursions into Cambodian territory—an issue that has become one of the party’s most potent mobilizers—including Vietnamese army construction projects in undemarcated “white zones” in several provinces.

Ms. Pisey said at least one of those contested areas was on the agenda last week.

“We also discussed the construction of the military base in Ratanakkiri province during the meeting, but the two sides have not yet reached an agreement because Vietnam maintained their stance that the land is located in Vietnam,” she said.

Committee co-chairman Var Kimhong said on Monday that even if the sides agreed to bring in outside experts, they remained at loggerheads as to which maps to use.

Representatives at the meeting also discussed, but could not reach an agreement on, a 2011 memorandum of understanding stipulating a land swap in Svay Rieng, Ratanakkiri, Mondolkiri and Tbong Khmum provinces to absorb villagers living along the border based on ethnicity, Mr. Kimhong said.

He said the two sides had agreed to build a new bridge to replace a decrepit standing structure near the Dak Dam in Mondolkiri province, but declined to comment on the project’s timeline or costs.

pheap@cambodiadaily.com

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