Phnom Penh and Hanoi have agreed on a framework to decide the future of ethnic
Vietnamese in Cambodia and for settling border disputes.
The deal was
made during a three-day visit by Vietnamese Foreign Minister Nguyen Manh Cam to
Phnom Penh last week, which was seen as laying the groundwork for Prime Minister
Vo Van Kiet to follow next month.
. Cam and Foreign Minister Prince Norodom
Sirivudh decided in principle to set up "a mechanism at expert and government
levels" to resolve all outstanding issues.
Earlier Cam had agreed to
look into the border and immigrant issues separately, reversing Vietnam's
earlier insistence that the two be dealt with together.
said that the two countries were expected to sign agreements on mutual
cooperation in trade and commerce and education, science and culture during
Both foreign ministers claimed that major progress had
been made during the talks with the signing of a memorandum of understanding
between the Foreign Ministries of the two countries, under which they will meet
at least once a year to discuss bilateral, regional and international
Refuting the recent Khmer Rouge claim that there are four million
illegal ethnic Vietnamese in Cambodia, Cam said the figure was "exaggerated."
He added: "According to our estimates, the number does not exceed
100,000," he said. Independent analysts put the figure at 200,000 to
The two sides also discussed the contentious issue of ethnic
Vietnamese who fled Cambodia after Khmer Rouge massacres and are now living in
"We are confident the Cambodian government will take
measures to alleviate their suffering," he said. He put their numbers at 4,000
Many of them hold Cambodian identity cards and speak fluent
Khmer. "They have lived in Cambodia for a long time, and their problems should
be solved," Cam said.
Cambodia does not yet have an immigration law, and
this has left the issue of citizenship unresolved so far. "First Prime Minister
Norodom Ranariddh has assured me that the immigration law will conform to
international standards," Cam said.
Earlier Prince Sirivudh called for a
"non-racial solution" to the immigrant issue, saying it would be solved through
legislation and would cover all foreigners in the country. "We are not the Khmer
Rouge," he added.
Apart from Prince Sirivudh, Cam held talks with Prime
Ministers Ranariddh and Hun Sen and acting head of state Chea Sim. He also
invited King Sihanouk to Hanoi once he recovers from treatment for cancer in