VN President To Visit, One Year After Attack

Vietnamese President Tran Duc Luong will arrive in Cam­bodia for a three-day visit on Nov 26, almost a year to the day since an abortive rebellion canceled his last planned trip.

“Recently, the situation in Cam­bodia has become much more stable,” Nguyen Duy Hung, Vietnam’s ambassador to Cam­bo­dia, said Thursday. “We are no lon­ger concerned about security.”

Diplomats said they believed that last year’s trip, scheduled two weeks after a visit by Chinese President Jiang Zemin, was intended to signal that Vietnam’s ties with Cam­bodia are at least as strong as China’s.

The Vietnamese ambassador would not say what the goal of this year’s visit will be. “It is too early to provide details,” he said. “The two sides are working on that now.”

Phnom Penh exploded in gunfire last Nov 24, three days before Tran Duc Luong was due to ar­rive. The previously unknown Cam­bodian Freedom Fighters later claimed responsibility for the mini-rebellion, in which at least four people died.

Investigators say the CFF may have tenuous links to another anti-communist organization in the US state of California called Free Vietnam, which has claimed responsibility for small bombings at Vietna­mese embassies in several countries.

The agenda for last year’s trip included plans to sign an agreement on border issues, a joint declaration of bilateral cooperation, and a memorandum of un­derstanding on cooperation be­tween their foreign ministries on international matters. An unidentified senior Cam­bodian official told Kyodo News that this year’s agenda will be similar.

The border issue has long been a touchy one. Both countries have accused each other of illegally shifting border markers, and some Cambodian politicians routinely accuse Vietnam of at­tempting to steal Cambodian land.

In 2000, both governments announced they would come to an agreement by the end of the year on disputed border areas. But the agreement never materialized, and no explanation was ever offered.

Tran Duc Luong, 64, was born in the central Vietnamese pro­vince of Quang Ngai and graduated from Hanoi’s College of Geo­logy in 1958. The following year, he joined the Communist Party of Vietnam.

He worked for years on a massive geological mapping project in Vietnam while he rose through the party ranks, completing studies at the National Election Academy in the former USSR in 1981. He was elected president in 1997.

He is married, with three children and four grandchildren. He speaks Russian, English and French.

Tran Duc Long has also planned a seven-day trip beginning Saturday to Indonesia, Brunei and the Philippines.



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