Gen Banh Says Sea Not on Agenda With Vietnam

Following a meeting with Vietnam’s new defense minister, Ngo Xuan Lich, Cambodian Defense Minister Tea Banh told reporters that rising tensions in the South China Sea were not even mentioned during their discussion.

“This morning, not even one word was raised” about the maritime disputes, General Banh said, explaining that there was no need for such talk, as Asean member states had already agreed on a code of conduct for resolving the issue.

However, Vietnam is among four Asean countries with claims to the sea that overlap with those of China, which has insisted on negotiating the disputes with individual countries rather than with the regional bloc as a whole.

Cambodia has adopted Beijing’s stance on the South China Sea, which Gen. Banh reiterated after Wednesday’s meeting.

“Cambodia’s stance is that those who have disputes should sit together to resolve issues, and outsiders should not disturb them,” he said.

As China has ramped up island-building in the sea over the past year, it has also accused the U.S. of causing instability in the region through its efforts to ensure that the international waters remain open.

narim@cambodiadaily.com

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