Vietnam’s Minister of Public Security arrived in Phnom Penh Monday to discuss, among other topics, tightening his nation’s borders with Cambodia and cracking down on illegal immigrants fleeing Vietnam.
Minister Le Ming Huong declined to discuss the status of more than 300 Montagnards who fled Vietnam’s Central Highlands and are now under UN protection in Cambodia, but illegal immigration is likely to be one of the topics when he meets with Prime Minister Hun Sen and other officials over the course of his three-day visit.
“There are two main points for the issue of strengthening the border: enforcement of immigration laws and implementation and strengthening cooperation along the border,” said Em Sam An, secretary of state for the Ministry of Interior.
The question of what will happen to the Montagnards is a matter between the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the Vietnamese, Em Sam An said. “There might be a discussion to find out a measure to crack down on any more [illegal] border crossings” of all kinds.
Vietnam contends that the Montagnards are illegal immigrants who should be returned.
The Montagnard issue has caused tension between Cambodia and Vietnam, especially after the government allowed 24 asylum seekers to go to the US.
Le Ming Huong was met at the airport by Em Sam An, who later joined the minister at a wreath-laying ceremony at Independence Monument.
This morning Le Ming Huong is scheduled to meet with co-Minister of the Interior Sar Kheng at a welcoming ceremony. On Wednesday he will speak separately with Hun Sen, National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh and Senate President Chea Sim.
In addition to illegal immigrants, Le Ming Huong will discuss extending cooperation between the police and security forces in the two nations, Em Sam An said.
In order to keep criminals from crossing the border, Em Sam An said, Cambodian police may be sent to train in Vietnam.