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PM: border deal will be signed this year

PM: border deal will be signed this year

Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that the government will sign a border agreement

in March with Vietnam. His comments came during a visit to Cambodia by the chairman

of the Vietnamese National Assembly, Nguyen Van An.

Hun Sen told reporters on December 25 the two governments had successfully negotiated

six of the seven points outstanding on border issues. He said it was unlikely the

remaining point would be resolved by March, but said both sides would sign off on

the other six regardless.

"The conversation we had was good, and the relationship between the two countries

has developed well," Hun Sen said. "From now until March we will endeavor

to work on the remaining point."

Cambodia has for years disputed parts of its common borders with all three neighbors

- Vietnam, Laos and Thailand - and the issue is certain to become a hot political

topic as the country heads towards the general election in July.

The seven outstanding points refer to specific tracts of disputed land. Two years

ago the government's point man on border issues, Long Visalo at the Ministry of Foreign

Affairs, told the Post that three were technical mistakes on the border of Ratanakkiri

and Mondolkiri, while the remaining four confused the border from Kampong Cham to

Svay Rieng.

However Hun Sen would not be drawn on which had proved the sticking point. Instead

he told reporters that negotiations with Vietnam were moving ahead quickly on economic

development along the borders. Both sides were determined that nothing should happen

to jeopardize that.

To that end both countries would encourage cooperation, and as part of the border

agreement would work to connect electricity supplies for Cambodian villagers living

in the border region.

Nguyen Van An also met with National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh

during his visit. Ranariddh said he too had raised the topic with his counterpart.

"The border issue is as important to me as my own life, so we should ensure

we have a strong political will to solve this problem," he said. "But that

doesn't mean we should rush to find a solution without thinking carefully about the

interest of Cambodians and the nation. We have to be clear on this issue."

Ranariddh reminded reporters that border problems were also outstanding between the

country's other neighbors, Thailand and Laos.

Nguyen Van An visited Cambodia between December 24-26. In addition to his meetings

with Hun Sen and Ranariddh, he met with King Norodom Sihanouk, and the President

of the Senate, Chea Sim.

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