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No word on border talks; MPs call for official’s head

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Senior minister of border affairs, Va Kim Hong, talks to the media yesterday at the Council of Ministers in Phnom Penh. Hong Menea

No word on border talks; MPs call for official’s head

Cambodia's senior minister on border affairs yesterday declined an invitation to join an opposition-led trip to the Vietnamese border and dismissed calls for his sacking, as bilateral talks continued over tension on the eastern frontier.

Chairman of Cambodia’s joint border committee Va Kim Hong rejected the request by Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmakers Real Camerin and Um Sam An to accompany 1,000 activists to inspect border posts in Svay Rieng’s Kampong Ro district on July 19.

“What obligation do I have to respect that [request]?” said Kim Hong, who is currently leading discussions with Vietnamese counterparts in Phnom Penh.

“They should go by themselves, the border posts are already planted, they should go to visit, there is no one blocking them.”

Camerin and Sam An last month went to the area with some 200 people, some of who clashed violently with Vietnamese authorities, leaving more than a dozen people injured.

In recent weeks, the CNRP has fuelled long-running border tensions by highlighting alleged Vietnamese border encroachment and accusing the government of ceding land during the ongoing demarcation process.

Amid rising tensions, the joint border committee, comprising 25 members from each country, has sat down this week at the Council of Ministers to discuss demarcation and the recent border brawl.

Yesterday, Sam An called for Kim Hong to step down over the alleged territory loss adding that 10 CNRP lawmakers will next week write to Prime Minister Hun Sen to demand his dismissal.

Reiterating his accusation that Kim Hong is using the “wrong maps” to delineate the border, Sam An, using a term for the Vietnamese considered offensive by some, said: “[Kim Hong] does not have capacity to resolve border with the Yuon.”

“If he continues to stay in his post, Cambodia will lose more land.”

Kim Hong again yesterday refused to elaborate on the current discussions, saying a joint statement would be released today.

He also dismissed the calls for his removal.

“It is up to the prime minister. It is not Um Sam An who [can] remove me.”

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