CO-INTERIOR Minister Sar Kheng will visit Vietnam to soothe growing border tensions,
following an invitation that was not extended to his Funcinpec counterpart, You Hockry.
Hockry confirmed this week that the Vietnamese "look like they have invited
[only] Sar Kheng," and that he would probably not accompany Kheng.
"One of us should be enough," he said, adding that he had not discussed
the matter with Kheng.
Hockry has been supportive of First Prime Minister and Funcinpec leader Prince Norodom
Ranariddh's complaints of land-grabbing by the Vietnamese, while Kheng's Cambodian
People's Party has been notably quiet on the matter.
The invitation for Kheng to visit Vietnam to discuss border disputes with Cambodia
was made during a Feb 1 meeting with Vietnamese ambassador in Phnom Penh, Tran Huy
It followed a fresh allegation by Ranariddh of Vietnamese provocation on the border
Ranariddh, speaking Jan 26, said that 15 Cambodian policemen had been ambushed on
Cambodian soil in Svay Rieng province by Vietnamese troops the day before. He gave
no other details.
Ranariddh stressed that Cambodia was commited to resolving the problem peacefully,
though some 200 Ministry of Interior police were reportedly sent to the area to monitor
Vietnam bluntly dismissed Ranariddh's comments, issuing a Jan 30 statement saying
that: "recently there was not any tension along the border between Vietnam and
Cambodia and the information that Vietnam had detained Cambodian police in Svay Rieng
province was completely unfounded."
Hockry, however, insisted the incident had occurred.
"The Vietnamese deny this, but it is fact. We don't lie..." he said, adding
that the incident had happened near Doung village of Svay Rieng.
Vietnam is known to have recently advanced its border checkpoint some 880m across
a contested 1000m de facto "no-man's land" near Doung, in one incident
Ranariddh has said constitutes an invasion of Cambodian soil.
Hockry said the Jan 25 confrontation occurred on that disputed land. No shots were
fired during the incident, he said.
There were four places in Svay Rieng where Vietnamese encroachments were alleged,
he said. Doung was the main "hot spot."
Kheng and Ambassador Tran were not available for comment, but Ministry officials
said Kheng would likely visit Vietnam in March.