Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Border talks stick to script

Border talks stick to script

Va Kim Hong and Ho Xuam Son
Va Kim Hong (right) and Ho Xuam Son (left) sign an agreement at the Council of Ministers yesterday in Phnom Penh. Heng Chivoan

Border talks stick to script

Three days of talks between Cambodia and Vietnam on what has become a highly charged border dispute concluded yesterday, with general commitments to prevent encroachment in yet-to-be demarcated areas and to stop “incidents” along the eastern frontier, an outcome slammed as “useless” by the opposition.

Despite the government’s recent tougher public stance against the alleged encroachment, no mention was made of the Kingdom’s recent diplomatic protests to Hanoi over suspected border infringements in Ratanakkiri or Kandal provinces.

Nor was any reference made to the brawl between an opposition-led group and Vietnamese authorities on June 28.

In a brief written joint statement, the joint border committee acknowledged the ongoing demarcation process was “complicated”, but stated that it was 83 per cent complete and would finish soon.

Both sides agreed to enforce “the spirit” of a January 1995 joint press release, which states that, pending demarcation, disputed areas should remain unchanged, while people should be “educated” to prevent cross-border cultivation or settlement.

Further, the committee, comprised of 25 officials from each country, said the joint border technical group and relevant local authorities would cooperate to “resolve all incidents” along the border and block the “spread” of incidents that affect the countries’ relations.

Following the meeting, head of Cambodia’s joint border committee Va Kim Hong and his Vietnamese counterpart, Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister Ho Xuam Son, refused to elaborate for reporters, the scant details drawing condemnation from the opposition.

“The border committee cannot resolve the issue; the authorities can not resolve; the Yuon never stop,” said Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmaker Um Sam An, using a term for Vietnamese considered offensive by some. “We have seen these three points and they are all useless, we cannot accept them,” he said.

Sam An, who of late has been the opposition’s most outspoken voice on the issue, dismissed the committee’s pledge to abide by the 1995 joint statement, saying Vietnam had already shown its contempt for the agreement by building irrigation ponds in Ratanakkiri and a military post in Kandal, allegedly inside the Kingdom.

The opposition claim Kim Hong has ceded territory to Vietnam by using maps drawn up by Vietnam in the 1980s to demarcate the border instead of the constitutionally mandated French maps, submitted to the United Nations by late King Norodom Sihanouk in 1964.

In recent weeks, Sam An, together with CNRP lawmakers Real Camerin and Mao Monivann, has led a crusade to highlight alleged encroachment, visiting four provinces and clashing twice with Vietnamese authorities. They plan to lead 1,000 people back to Svay Rieng’s Kampong Ro province on July 19, the same place where the brawl erupted on June 28.

Responding yesterday, government spokesman Phay Siphan said that while Vietnam and Cambodia didn’t agree on all points, committing to resolving the border issue peacefully could be considered a success.



  • US names new ambassador to Cambodia

    US President Donald Trump on Friday appointed W Patrick Murphy as the new US Ambassador to Cambodia, replacing incumbent William A Heidt. A press release posted on the White House’s website said nominee W Patrick Murphy is currently acting principal deputy assistant secretary at

  • Kingdom is at a crossroads between East, West after poll

    It was dubbed a success by caretaker prime minister Hun Sen after the electoral victory of his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), which is poised to take all seats in the National Assembly. But the July 29 national election has not been positively looked at by

  • Chinese influence to sweep Kingdom?

    Growing Cambodia-China ties have seen the latter’s influence sweep across the Kingdom through increased investments and tourism. The Asian giant has become the leading source of foreign funds in Cambodia, fuelling the construction sector with huge casino and hotel projects. Much of the growth

  • Western poll flak is ‘pressure to take the Kingdom hostage’

    After last month’s national elections brought praise for the orderly manner they were run and managed, the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) spokesman Sok Eysan dismissed criticism from the West as a “violation of the Kingdom’s independence”. He said the attitude of