PHNOM PENH (Khmer Times) – Prime Minister Hun Sen has written to a US state senator thanking him for his support on the issue of demarcating the border with Vietnam.
“I am delighted that you are well aware of what has happened in Cambodia concerning the map and border issues,” he wrote to Washington state senator Don Benton.
“Your view of the attack against me and my government on these issues as ‘baseless’ and politically-motivated’, has rendered justice to the efforts undertaken by myself and my government.”
Mr. Benton wrote to Mr. Hun Sen just over a week ago, praising him over the border issue and criticizing the “baseless attacks” by the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP).
It is not clear why the senator sent the letter, but his state has a large Cambodian-American population and US politicians often take a strong stand on issues that strike a chord with key groups in their constituencies.
The border issue with Vietnam has long been a controversial political subject. The opposition, some activists and NGOs have accusesd the government of being weak and ceding land to Vietnam.
In the letter, Mr. Hun Sen slammed the CNRP’s leaders for accusing the government of using fake border maps to demarcate the border with Vietnam.
“The opposition party has used the border issue in its campaign against the government with the objective of achieving their political gain,” he wrote.
“It has gone as far as accusing the government of using a ‘fake map’ and even ‘thief map’. All of these reckless deeds of the opposition party aimed to confuse the national and international public opinion.”
Opposition senator Hong Sok Hour has been jailed on charges of incitement after a doctored photo on Facebook about the map issue.
The government has borrowed historical maps held by France and the UN to help settle the issue of where the disputed border lies. The dispute has delayed further negotiations with Vietnam while the government defends its position.
The CNRP and the royalist Funcipec Party have been consulted on verifying the accuracy of the maps and those béing used by the government.
“After the two verification processes of the said maps, Cambodia’s government considers the map and border issues with Vietnam to have ended,” The letter stated.