Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that the government will sign a border agreement
in March with Vietnam. His comments came during a visit to Cambodia by the chairman
of the Vietnamese National Assembly, Nguyen Van An.
Hun Sen told reporters on December 25 the two governments had successfully negotiated
six of the seven points outstanding on border issues. He said it was unlikely the
remaining point would be resolved by March, but said both sides would sign off on
the other six regardless.
"The conversation we had was good, and the relationship between the two countries
has developed well," Hun Sen said. "From now until March we will endeavor
to work on the remaining point."
Cambodia has for years disputed parts of its common borders with all three neighbors
- Vietnam, Laos and Thailand - and the issue is certain to become a hot political
topic as the country heads towards the general election in July.
The seven outstanding points refer to specific tracts of disputed land. Two years
ago the government's point man on border issues, Long Visalo at the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs, told the Post that three were technical mistakes on the border of Ratanakkiri
and Mondolkiri, while the remaining four confused the border from Kampong Cham to
However Hun Sen would not be drawn on which had proved the sticking point. Instead
he told reporters that negotiations with Vietnam were moving ahead quickly on economic
development along the borders. Both sides were determined that nothing should happen
to jeopardize that.
To that end both countries would encourage cooperation, and as part of the border
agreement would work to connect electricity supplies for Cambodian villagers living
in the border region.
Nguyen Van An also met with National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh
during his visit. Ranariddh said he too had raised the topic with his counterpart.
"The border issue is as important to me as my own life, so we should ensure
we have a strong political will to solve this problem," he said. "But that
doesn't mean we should rush to find a solution without thinking carefully about the
interest of Cambodians and the nation. We have to be clear on this issue."
Ranariddh reminded reporters that border problems were also outstanding between the
country's other neighbors, Thailand and Laos.
Nguyen Van An visited Cambodia between December 24-26. In addition to his meetings
with Hun Sen and Ranariddh, he met with King Norodom Sihanouk, and the President
of the Senate, Chea Sim.