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Vietnam yet to reply to diplomatic note over tents in disputed stretch

Khuon Narim / Khmer Times Share:
Border protection police inspect the tents set up by the Vietnamese in a disputed stretch. Police

The Vietnamese government has still not replied to a diplomatic note sent from Cambodia over the setting up of tents in a disputed border stretch, prompting an accusation it does not value good neighbourly ties.

Var Kimhong, chairman of the Border Affairs Committee, said on Thursday the government, through the Foreign Affairs Ministry, sent the diplomatic note to the Vietnamese government on May 13, over the setting up of 31 tents by Vietnamese soldiers in the disputed border stretch in Kandal province’s Koh Thom and Loeuk Dek districts.

Lieutenant General Leang Phearom, director of the Border Protection Police Department of the Interior Ministry, said yesterday he has not yet seen any response from the Vietnamese authorities.

Kin Phea, director-general of the International Relations Institute of Royal Academy of Cambodia, said yesterday the Vietnamese side does not seem to value the traditional and neighbourly relations between both countries.

He said the Vietnamese have not shown mutual respect in their actions such as unilaterally shutting its borders over COVID-19 without first informing Cambodia and then setting up 31 tents at the disputed stretch and removing only three so far despite getting the diplomatic note.

“They have removed only three tents, so we raise the question on whether Vietnam has considered its relations with Cambodia,” Mr Phea said. “Cambodia always highly values the relations between the two countries. I think Vietnam does not seem to value the relations.”

“Ignoring or delaying a response to Cambodia’s diplomatic notes usually means a country does not respect good relations with the Kingdom,” he added.

In April, Kandal provincial border police officers inspected the stretch near border gates which had recently been closed to prohibit crossings amid the virus pandemic.

They found the Vietnamese soldiers had erected tents at nine locations along the disputed border stretch in Koh Thom district’s Dambok Chev station, which is situated next to Vietnam’s An Giang province.

Following talks at the provincial level, the Vietnamese soldiers said they would remove the tents but only three were taken down and 28 remain.

Mr Kimhong said yesterday he was not aware whether Vietnam had responded to Cambodia’s diplomatic notes.

“The Vietnamese have set up tents in areas where we have not reached an agreement as yet,” he said and referred questions to Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong who could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The Kingdom shares a 1,270-kilometre border with Vietnam and the two nations have been demarcating it since 2006. The two countries have ratified 86 percent of their common border.

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