Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday reassured U.S. President Barack Obama that a request he made for maps of Cambodia’s border with Vietnam last month was not a request for maps of where the U.S. bombed Cambodia during the Second Indochina War.
With the opposition CNRP leading a campaign accusing the government of not using the maps mandated under the Constitution, Mr. Hun Sen last month wrote to Mr. Obama asking for copies of maps Cambodia gave to the U.S. last century that show Cambodia’s borders with Vietnam.
U.S. B-52 bombers dropped almost 2.7 million tons of ordnance on Cambodia to flush out communists in the 1960s and 1970s, but Mr. Hun Sen said Monday that the U.S. president should not confuse the two issues.
“I appeal from here through the wind, please, President Obama, you don’t need to worry, I am not asking for the map drawn by America for dropping bombs [on Cambodia] during the previous regime,” Mr. Hun Sen said.
“It’s true America may be concerned, since America drew a number of maps for use in the military sector, but I’m not asking for those ones. I’ll just borrow the ones Cambodia deposited, and please send along American map specialists.”
Mr. Hun Sen also said he would be willing to commit up to $5 million in state funds to send a group of Cambodians to the U.N. headquarters in New York to inspect a copy of the map deposited there by Prince Norodom Sihanouk in 1964.
The second article of the Constitution specifies that the government can only use copies of that map, which was drawn during the French colonial period in Cambodia, in its demarcation of the country’s land and sea borders.
“If the U.N. does not authorize the export of the maps, we will volunteer delegates to go there, taking non-government parties and related officials, such as from the Royal Academy of Cambodia or other political parties,” he said.
“The government will willingly pay the airfares and the hotel fees to the U.N.,” the prime minister added. “I cannot accept the word that [the government] has used fake maps. If you say it is a fake, where’s the correct one?”
The prime minister also rejected calls from a number of opposition lawmakers to consider filing a complaint to the International Court of Justice over alleged Vietnamese encroachments into Cambodian territory.
“I request that the person who asked me to file a complaint to the Hague submit a clear thesis to me, and the location” of the alleged international crime, Mr. Hun Sen said. “There is no need to file a complaint just to lose.”