PM Stands Behind Border Treaty With Vietnam

Prime Minister Hun Sen Thurs­­­­day again defended a controversial upcoming border treaty with Viet­nam, saying it would win back land for the nation rather than lose it, and accused previous Cam­bodian leaders and the French of ceding Cam­bodian territory in the past.

Hun Sen is scheduled to visit Vietnam on Monday to negotiate a supplemental treaty based on the 1985 border agreement with Viet­nam, whose terms will be kept se­cret until it has been ratified by the National Assembly, according to documents obtained Sept 14.

“The French drew maps biased [to Vietnam], we lost a lot of territory,” Hun Sen said during a grad­uation ceremony at the National Institute of Education, adding that this was not the fault of the French gov­ernor of Indochina, but of French officials who mapped out the border.

Referring to unnamed former Cam­bodian leaders, he added: “In the old days, Cambodia’s pro­vinces were given away. Now I take back land, [and] I am criticized.”

Notes written by retired King Norodom Sihanouk and obtained Wednesday state that King Nor­od­­om Sihamoni will not be in the country to sign off on the upcoming treaty, leaving the decision to sign up to the interim head of state.

Prince Sisowath Thomico, special secretary to the retired king, said, “In this particular case I do not believe the government is serving the interests of the country.”

The issue is not so much whether land is lost or gained in the treaty, but one of principle, he said, ex­plaining that the 1985 agreement was signed during the Viet­namese occupation.

“In accepting to negotiate on the grounds of that treaty, the government is accepting to recognize the domination of Viet­nam,”  said Prince Thomico.

The treaty should be based on border declarations reached in the 1960s, when Norodom Sihan­ouk was head of state, he added.

An official at the Vietnamese Em­bassy said the supplemental treaty will go “as planned,” but said he did not know how it would benefit either country.

Government spokesman Khieu Kan­harith said critics are under­min­ing the government’s position in the negotiations, adding that Cam­­bodia needs a clearly defined border.

“We try to negotiate a treaty to have a clear border…for the next gen­­eration,” he said. “To do this we need one voice from all Cambo­dians.”

He added that many people are try­ing to politicize the situation without understanding it.



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