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Vietnam ‘committed’ to withdrawing illegal border tents after pandemic

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Var Kimhong (centre), senior minister for Border Affairs poses for a group photo before a border meeting at Bavet International Border Crossing. GDI

Vietnam ‘committed’ to withdrawing illegal border tents after pandemic

National Border Committee chairman Va Kimhong met with his Vietnamese counterpart on Saturday to discuss several Vietnamese tents that are still erected on unsettled borderlands.

The meeting was held in Vietnam’s Moc Bai international checkpoint.

Kimhong said: “We only discussed the tents [Vietnam] erected. I don’t want to elaborate on it now as we are still in the process of discussions.”

Last week, Cambodia Border Affairs Committee vice-chairperson Koy Pisey took to Facebook to clarify the situation regarding the tents. She said Vietnam had built 40 tents on disputed borderland which didn’t belong to either country.

The interior ministry said it believes the issue can be solved diplomatically.

Pisey said Vietnam has committed to removing the tents once the pandemic is over.

“We, and border affairs leaders, especially Samdech Techo [Hun Sen] have devoted our lives to protecting the country forever. In our every breath, we never forget our duties, we must utterly protect our territory from being invaded by foreigners, and Cambodia will not invade others,” she said.

On Sunday, Kandal provincial governor Kong Sophorn told The Post that the military tents that Vietnam erected along disputed borders remained in place.

Sophorn said there were 24 tents built along 29km in his province. Only nine of the 24 tents were built on the 12km-long disputed border area. Local authorities of the two countries had communicated often on the mater, he said.

“We told them not to erect more tents and we told them to remove [the tents already erected]. They were about to remove them. But lately, the outbreak of Covid-19 has [intensified], especially in their community.

“They made phone calls to our district and commune administration telling us that they faced challenges and they kept preventing border movement. They place a priority on Covid-19 prevention, and we are also at high alert on this matter,” Sophorn said.

He said when Covid-19 settles down and if the Vietnamese do not remove their tents, the Cambodian authorities will respond according to the law.

Kin Phea, the director of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia said on Sunday that Vietnam did not seem to heed Cambodia’s requests. He said the government had tried hard to solve the issue, but Vietnam seemed to not respect the cooperation of the two nations.

“It doesn’t make sense that they built tents on unsettled border areas due to Covid-19. This doesn’t show good intentions towards a neighbouring country,” Phea said.

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