Gov’t Officials Depart for Border Talks With Vietnam

A seven-person government delegation left for Ho Chi Minh City Monday for three days of “technical” talks on how the two countries will go about surveying their common border, Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials said.

Negotiators from Vietnam and Cambodia have already agreed in principal to use maps drawn when Indochina was a French protectorate from 1933-1956, said Var Kim Hong, chairman of the Cambodian commission. But the maps are outdated and vague, and the land needs to be resurveyed. Negotiators met twice last year for talks.

During the three-day trip, the two sides will hammer out precise procedures for the survey, including the equipment to be used, said Long Visalo, undersecretary of state for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who is the chief of the technical team.

“I cannot tell you now how we will adjust the border,” he said. “We need to see the places.”

Talks over the border are ongoing, and some disagreements remain. At least seven areas along the border of varying size remain in contention, Long Visalo said.

There are numerous maps that put together provide a picture of the border as it was delineated during the French protectorate, according to Var Kim Hong. But some of the maps overlap, or do not connect correctly.

In addition, French cartographers failed to incorporate some government decrees into their maps, leading to disputes over whether to use the maps—which would give Vietnam more land—or the decrees which would cede more land to Cambodia, Long Visalo said.

The border issue has sparked emotional protests by student groups, who contend that Vietnam has unjustly taken land that belongs to Cambodia. Long Visalo said substantial progress has been made in the talks, and noted the Prime Minister Hun Sen has set a target date for the end of the year for resolving the ambiguous border with Vietnam.



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