Praise Marks Newly Appointed Vietnamese President’s Visit

After a year filled with tension over Cambodia’s border with Vietnam, Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang’s first visit to Phnom Penh since taking office in April was filled with praise for diplomatic developments between the two countries.

During a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen at his office building in the afternoon, Mr. Dai Quang offered praise and promised to expand cooperation, according to Eang Sophalleth, a personal assistant to the premier.

cam photo VN president reuters
Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang, right, embraces Prime Minister Hun Sen at the prime minister’s office building in Phnom Penh on Wednesday. (Pring Samrang/Reuters)

“His Excellency Tran Dai Quang told…Prime Minister Hun Sen that since becoming president, he decided to visit Laos and Cambodia to reflect on policies—not reform them —to strengthen the relationships between the three countries,” Mr. Sophalleth said.

While he did not elaborate on which policies were discussed, Mr. Sophalleth said Mr. Hun Sen offered a series of suggestions for future developments, including better treatment of Vietnamese nationals living in Cambodia.

“Samdech [Mr. Hun Sen] asked His Excellency the president to push forward discussions for economic connectivity…and to agree to improve the treatment of Cambodians living in Vietnam as well as the treatment of Vietnamese here,” he said.

Illegal Vietnamese immigration into Cambodia has long been a central complaint of the opposition CNRP, and the party’s racist rhetoric has often been described as a potential threat to ethnic Vietnamese people living in the country.

The CNRP launched a campaign in the middle of last year to highlight Vietnamese incursions along the border, forcing Cambodia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry to send diplomatic missives to Hanoi asking it to respect existing border agreements.

Prime Minister Hun Sen swiftly brought the CNRP’s campaign to an end, however, ordering the arrest of opposition Senator Hong Sok Hour for presenting a fake border treaty in a video on Facebook and threatening to arrest others who claimed that the government was using the wrong maps to demarcate the border.

Whatever tensions flared up over the past year were not apparent on Wednesday, however, with National Assembly President Heng Samrin—an early leader of the Hanoi-installed government that ruled through the 1980s—praising Vietnam after his meeting with Mr. Dai Quang.

“[Mr. Samrin] said, ‘On behalf of the Cambodian people, thank you to the government and the people of Vietnam for your strong support and assistance in liberating our country’” from the Khmer Rouge, Mr. Samrin’s Cabinet chief, Keo Piseth, told reporters after the meeting at the National Assembly.

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