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Bilateral border talks held with Vietnam

Bilateral border talks held with Vietnam

As tension over the Kingdom’s western border continues to simmer following clashes between Cambodian and Thai forces earlier this month, attention turned to the east yesterday with a meeting of officials from Vietnam and Cambodia’s bilateral Joint Border Committee.

Var Kimhong, senior minister in charge of border affairs, joined Vietnamese deputy foreign minister and JBC co-chairman Ho Xuan Son yesterday at the Council of Ministers to discuss the countries’ demarcation progress from 2010 and plan additional efforts for this year.

Last year, the countries agreed on 155 kilometres worth of demarcation, or roughly 31 percent of their boundary, Var Kimhong said yesterday, adding that demarcation was 66 percent complete overall.

“We hope that the process will be complete by 2012 according to our goal,” Var Kimhong said yesterday.

The Danish firm BLOM Geomatics AS was awarded a US$1.5 million contract to map the Cambodian-Vietnamese border following a competitive bidding process last year.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard the case of opposition leader Sam Rainsy and two villagers from Svay Rieng province who were arrested in 2009 after a protest against alleged Vietnamese encroachment along the border in which they uprooted demarcation posts. The two villagers were found guilty of destruction of public property and jailed, serving nearly a year in prison before their release in October; Sam Rainsy remains abroad to avoid prosecution.

The Sam Rainsy Party leader was also found guilty of disinformation last year in connection with attempts to vindicate his border protest; in total, he faces 12 years in prison if he returns to the country.

Var Kimhong said yesterday that Sam Rainsy’s actions had created an “obstacle” for the demarcation process.

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