Vietnam border talks fail

The neglected Cambodia-Vietnam Friendship Monument in Phnom Penh, built to commemorate the war to drive the Khmer Rouge from power, is symbolic of their complex relationship. Source: Wikimedia

A closed meeting on border issues between Vietnam and Cambodia has reportedly ended in deadlock on the issue of France’s involvement in the demarcation process.
Va Kim Hong, chairman of Cambodia’s border committee, and Le Hoai Trung, deputy minister of the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry who is in charge of border affairs, met in Phnom Penh on Monday but Hoai returned to Vietnam before any of the major issues had been settled.
Vietnam has refused to apologise for alleged continued constructions inside banned border areas with delegates only saying they would pass the Cambodian grievances to their superiors. The main sticking point for both sides is what role France, the former colonial power, should play in defining the borders.
Hanoi says it wants France to rule on seven areas using their mapping technology and “Bonne” maps from the colonial era.

“The main principal of Cambodia’s government is to solve the border issue based on peaceful negotiation. We do not want to violate the territory of other countries or let other countries violate our territory,” Kim Hong said. “We should not bring this border case to international courts because the two countries can solve this. It just takes time.”
For more than nine months Cambodian officials have said “83 per cent” of the border was demarcated but neither sides is willing to share funding to complete the project.
Kim Hong told the media that no joint statement could be issued as no agreement had been reached on border delineation.

Kim Hong said: “The demarcation between Cambodia and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam at that time in ’83 follows the boundary lines on the Indochina map with a scale of 1/100,000. It means that the boundaries on that Indochina map, which is the map that the colonial power left for us when we gained independence in 1953 [matches our proposals].”

The delegations had agreed to continue to demarcate the border, Kim added, and would continue negotiations over a draft letter that would be sent to the France’s authorities to request technical assistance in the dispute.

Son Chhay, an opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party MP, said the country’s political crisis prevented effective negotiations with Vietnam.

“We have the Paris [Peace] Agreement, which signatory countries guarantee our sovereignty and we are a member of the United Nations, which can use the international court system to help,” the MP said.