Retired King Assesses Border Council Meeting

Retired King Norodom Siha­nouk, chairman of the newly formed Supreme National Council on border issues, on Sunday gave a mixed assessment of the council’s classified first meeting in Bei­jing last week.

“The council meeting was good and friendly…in the spirit of nationalism,” he said. But he noted that Cambodia had undeniably lost territory to its neighboring countries.

“On paper and on the maps, we do not lose any territory, but on the ground our country was cut little by little by neighboring countries,” he wrote in a letter posted on his Web site and dated Sunday.

Norodom Sihanouk added that the seven-member council would not meet again until after he re­ceives medical treatment in Bei­jing.

Though the proceedings of the May 11 border council meeting are meant to be confidential, Fun­cinpec lawmaker Princess Noro­dom Va­cheara, vice-president of the council, said Sunday that she had proposed to amend a royal de­cree on es­tablishing the council in or­der to give more power to the coun­cil.

The royal decree, which was signed by King Norodom Siha­mo­ni last month, offers no exe­cutive power to the retired King, she said.

According to a copy of the draft ob­tained Sunday, the proposed amendments would eliminate an article in the decree that states the council must “abide by government policy on territory.”

Some have criticized the de­­cree, saying it gives the border council es­sentially no power, yet holds Norodom Sihanouk responsible for the country’s border disputes.

Norodom Sihanouk himself wrote last week: “Please pardon me. I am head of a council which has no power, [and] no right to in­form you the results of the council meetings.”

He has repeatedly stated he would not recognize any border agreements made between Cam­bo­dia and Vietnam made during the 1980s.

According to a report from state-run Voice of Vietnam radio, dated Thursday, Vietnam “thoroughly re­­­­­spects agreements on borders and territories signed between Viet­nam and Cambodia in the prin­ciple of equality and mutual re­spect in line with international laws and practices.”

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