Vietnam’s Deputy Foreign Minister Le Hoai Trung on Tuesday met with Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong to inform him that local Vietnamese authorities had been ordered to compile reports on the use of land on disputed stretches of the border following recent diplomatic notes from Cambodia.
Cambodia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry has over the past month issued a series of terse diplomatic notes concerning alleged Vietnamese construction inside “white zones” on the border—areas that both countries have claimed as their own but temporarily relinquished until further negotiations are complete.
In response, Mr. Trung on Tuesday came to Phnom Penh to offer Vietnam’s side of the story, telling Mr. Namhong that one of the recent flash points—a Vietnamese military outpost allegedly being built in Kandal province’s Koh Thom province—is simply an existing building undergoing repairs.
“His Excellency [Mr. Namhong] requested that Vietnam stop this construction, even if it is a matter of renovating an existing post as claimed by Vietnam’s deputy minister of foreign affairs,” reads a statement released Wednesday by Cambodia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.
“Vietnam’s deputy foreign affairs minister…informed that when receiving the Cambodian foreign affairs minister’s diplomatic notes, Vietnamese leaders ordered local authorities to make reports for Vietnam’s leaders,” it continues.
The statement from Cambodia’s Foreign Ministry adds that Mr. Namhong reiterated to Mr. Trung that Vietnam should “not do anything on the areas that have not been demarcated.”
CNRP lawmaker Um Sam An—one of two opposition lawmakers who have led recent trips to uncover the alleged Vietnamese border violations—said that Mr. Trung’s account of the new border post was misleading.
“It is absolutely new construction, not a renovation of an existing military post as claimed by the Yuon,” Mr. Sam An said, using a word for Vietnamese people that is often considered derogatory.