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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - VN territorial disputes to be hammered out

VN territorial disputes to be hammered out

CAMBODIA and Vietnam have agreed to hold talks on a wide range of border and

immigration issues - the most inflammatory problems dividing the

countries.

Among the items on the agenda will be the plight of Khmer

refugees in Vietnam, Cambodia's allegedly anti-Vietnamese immigration law, and

long-standing sea and land border disputes.

Joint committees are to be

set up to try to resolve the problems, following Cambodian First Prime Minister

Norodom Ranariddh's Jan 15-17 visit to Hanoi.

A joint communiqué issued

at the end of his visit said the two countries would settle their differences

through peaceful negotiation.

Both sides had agreed to find an "early

solution" to the question of Cambodian refugees in Vietnam.

Particular

mention was made of the almost 4000 "Vietnamese nationals" living in boats on

the Basaac River at Chrey Thom, after fleeing Cambodia because of Khmer Rouge

attacks.

Cambodia's immigration law passed in August, previously

criticized by Vietnam as being anti-Vietnamese, was apparently the subject of

considerable discussion during Prince Ranariddh's visit.

The communiqué

said that Prince Ranariddh and his officials had "explained" the immigration law

and promised that it would not lead to mass expulsions of Vietnamese from

Cambodia.

The two countries agreed a joint working group would meet in

February to "discuss and settle the issue of Vietnamese nationals in Cambodia on

the basis of respect for Cambodian national legislation and international law

and practices".

Another working group would be set up to settle boundary

disputes between the two countries, which have included allegations about the

moving of border markers in recent years.

Both pledged not to change the

current border markers, and to prevent any further settlement of their people

inside each other's borders and to cooperate in maintaining border

security.

Vietnam Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet also accepted an invitation

from Prince Ranariddh to visit Cambodia at a time yet to be decided.

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