Hun Sen To Negotiate Border With Vietnam

Prime Minister Hun Sen will go to Vietnam in October to negotiate Cambodia’s border with Vietnam, according to a Council of Ministers document dated Aug 11 and signed by Deputy Prime Minister Sok An.

The document, obtained on Wed­nesday, states that negotiations will be based on a border agre­­ement signed between Cam­bod­ia and Vietnam in 1985 while Cambodia was under Viet­na­mese occupation, and that a “supplemental treaty” will be ne­gotiated.

Some critics have alleged that the 1985 agreement ceded significant amounts of Cambodian land to Vietnam.

“The supplemental treaty must not be publicized until the Nat­ional Assembly ratifies [it],” the document specifies, adding that the treaty will have to be ap­pro­ved by lawmakers in both Viet­nam and Cambodia.

Before Hun Sen leaves for Viet­nam, the premier will visit King Norodom Sihamoni, the document states.

In 2003, then-King Noro­dom Sihanouk declined to sign any new border pacts be­twe­en Cam­bodia and Vietnam.

According to the document, the Coun­cil of Ministers decided to initiate the negotiations after receiving complaints about border issues from local officials.

Several months ago, tensions over the border issue led to heated rhetoric from both Hun Sen and retired King Norodom Sihan­ouk, then-chair of the Supreme Nat­ional Council of Border Af­fairs. The prime minister was subsequently named the sole figure with authority to negotiate the country’s border issues.

Var Kimhong, president of the gov­ernment’s border commission, was not available for comment. Minister of Information and government spokesman Khieu Kan­har­ith declined to com­ment.

Critics of the proposed treaty say it should not be based on agreements signed by Cambodia while it was under Vietnamese occupation.

“We are concerned that the new agreement will not benefit the country,” said opposition par­lia­mentarian Son Chhay.

“It just legalizes the 1985 treaty,” he claimed, arguing that negotiations should instead be bas­ed on the 1991 Paris Peace Agree­ment, which gave Cambo­dia the right to renegotiate border contracts sign­ed while the country was under Viet­namese occupation.

Son Chhay also objected to the secrecy surrounding the text of the treaty.

“This is of concern to every Cam­­bodian,” he said.

“By working behind closed doors in this way, it cast doubt… about whether the govern­ment is working to protect our sovereignty and [territorial] integrity.”


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