Prime Minister Hun Sen has pledged that after he secures copies of officially recognised maps of the Cambodia-Vietnam border, he will invite the opposition and international experts to take part in reviewing them.
The comments yesterday came as a Cambodian delegation led by Long Visalo, secretary of state at the Foreign Ministry, met Vietnamese officials in Svay Rieng province, amid heightened tensions over the disputed placement of the international boundry.
Speaking at a graduation ceremony in Phnom Penh, Hun Sen said allegations by the Cambodia National Rescue Party that he had used “fake maps” were uncalled for.
The premier on Wednesday wrote to the leaders of France, the UK and US, to request copies of the original French Indochina maps, known as the Bonne maps, which were officially recognised in the 1960s. On July 6, he also wrote to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to request copies of the maps.
“It would be very unjust for me or for the Royal Government [to do this unilaterally],” he said. “We have asked for the maps from foreign countries.
France produced these maps, and French experts will come along . . . with other parties to verify them.”
“We can go to the Peace Palace, or anywhere else, to verify the maps . . . We will take [the French map] to compare it with the one we have, in order to resolve the border issue with Vietnam.”
He added that he would also use the Bonne maps – which covered all of Cambodia’s frontiers – to settle outstanding disagreements with Laos over the border demarcation.
Um Sam An, a CNRP lawmaker who has taken a leading role in calling for the resolution of the dispute with Vietnam, echoed Hun Sen’s call for international assistance.
“If those countries do not help, how do we know [the government-held] maps are from the UN?” Sam An said. “The best case scenario would be for Mr Hun Sen to file to the [International Court of Justice].”
Officials yesterday remained tight-lipped about the joint border meeting with Vietnam, which came just over two weeks since an opposition march in the area led to violent clashes between Vietnamese villagers and militia and the demonstrators.