Vietnam Halts Road Work at Kampot Border

Vietnam has stopped construction of a road near its border with Kampot province after Cambodian officials complained that the project was coming too close to the borderline, according to a provincial border police official.

Touch Sary, deputy chief of border police unit 601 in Kompong Tralach district, said Cambodian police visited the Vietnamese construction crew on Monday to request that it remove machinery from near border posts 312 and 313.

“Vietnam, of course, has temporarily stopped clearing land for road construction since Monday,” Mr. Sary said. “Basically, the construction is inside Vietnam, but it is too close to the borderline—just 20 meters from the borderline.”

Mr. Sary said that construction projects so close to Cambodian territory required the consent of provincial authorities.

“The authorities of the two provinces agreed that it’s necessary to get approval from the two sides whenever there is development or construction near the border,” he said.

The request from provincial authorities in Kampot follows a series of diplomatic missives from Cambodia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry to Vietnam over the past two months, requesting that Hanoi halt projects in three provinces that were either on Cambodian soil or in contested border areas.

The government’s public protests against Vietnam’s activity along the border come amid a campaign by the opposition CNRP to discredit the government’s work with Vietnam in demarcating the shared border.

During a meeting of the Joint Border Committee earlier this month, Vietnam’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ho Xuan Son promised to halt projects along the border with Kandal, Svay Rieng and Ratanakkiri provinces, according to a statement issued by Cambodia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry earlier this month.

But in Ratanakkiri, where Vietnam promised to fill in three ponds that had been dug on Cambodian land to irrigate Vietnamese plantations, provincial spokesman Nhen Sam Oeun said that nothing has been done.

“So far, they have not been filled in,” he said Tuesday of the ponds.

Chhay Thy, provincial monitor for rights group Adhoc, said Vietnam should be quicker to act on its commitments.

“If Vietnam commits to implement the promise, the ponds should have been filled in just a few days after agreeing to do so,” he said.

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