Vietnam’s President Nguyen Arrives in Capital

Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet arrived in Phnom Penh yesterday afternoon for a three-day official visit, although topics that might be discussed during his scheduled meetings with Prime Minister Hun Sen and other top government officials remained unclear.

Chea Sokhom, deputy secretary-general for the National Committee for Organizing National and International Festivals, told reporters at Phnom Penh International Airport after Mr Nguyen’s arrival that he did not know what issues would be up for discussion when the Vietnamese head of state met with Mr Hun Sen, Senate President Chea Sim and National Assembly President Heng Samrin.

“[Mr Nguyen’s] visit will strengthen the cooperation of the two nations,” he said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said yesterday that he too could not provide information on the content of the meetings.

“I don’t know exactly what is on the agenda,” he said.

SRP spokesman Yim Sovann said yesterday that the dearth of information available on Mr Nguyen’s agenda was “ridiculous” given that he was a head of state, and suggested numerous issues that should be raised in his talks with Cambodian officials.

“A lot of issues should be discussed, like the Khmer Krom and the violation of their rights, human rights issues and also economic issues,” he said.

Mr Sovann also called for more transparency in Cambodia’s international relations, saying that details of negotiations over problems like border disputes should be publicly available.

“We should not hide agendas, because there are problems with the Thai border, and the Vietnamese border,” he said. “All these issues and discussions should be made public.”

Tensions between Cambodia and Thailand have flared in recent weeks over a 4.6-square-km parcel of land near Cambodia’s World Heritage-listed Preah Vihear temple. Cambodia wrote Aug 14 to the foreign minister of Vietnam, which currently holds the chair of Asean, asking that the regional body mediate border discussions.

Mr Kuong said he did not know whether the Preah Vihear dispute would be discussed.

“I have no idea about this,” he said.


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