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Vietnam replaces border tents with concrete structures

Ben Sokhean / Khmer Times Share:
Vietnamese soldiers upgrading their tents to concrete structures near Kandal and Takeo provinces. Areng News

Vietnamese soldiers have upgraded “border-some” tents with structures made up of concrete and wood in six locations along the undemarcated areas border areas near Kandal province, authorities said.

The new development came after provincial police Chief Major General Chhoeun Sochet reported to provincial governor Kong Sophorn last month that Vietnamese border guards in southern Vietnam’s An Giang province are removing the tents and replacing them with the new structures.

Maj Gen Sochet said they discovered that Vietnamese authorities are building concrete and wood structures to replace the tents. He said the structures are five metres long and three metres high with corrugated tin roofs.

Contacted yesterday, Sophorn said Cambodian and Vietnamese authorities jointly patrolled the border area recently and found the tents still remain.

“The provincial authorities, consisting of military and border protection officers have been patrolling regularly, So far they [Vietnamese soldiers] have not removed the tents yet,” Sophan said.

He refused to comment further but he told local media the Vietnamese had also installed concrete and wood structures to replace tents at six locations at undemarcated areas along the border in Koh Thom and Loeuk Dek districts, and they had said the structures were temporary to prevent the outbreak of COVID-19.

“They replaced the tents with solid structures,” he said, adding that Cambodian authorities will keep asking the Vietnam side to remove all the structures.

The National Police’s Border Police Department, has said that since the outbreak of COVID-19, Cambodian authorities found nearly 300 tents set up by the Vietnamese along the border areas between the two nations in Kandal, Takeo, Prey Veng, Svay Rieng, Kampot, Tboung Khmum, Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri provinces.

Var Kimhong, chairman of the Cambodian Border Affairs Committee could not be reached for comment yesterday but previously confirmed the Vietnamese side also built a concrete and wood structure at an “undemarcated border portion” in Takeo province’s Thma Bei Dom area.

Foreign Affairs Ministry Koy Kuong said yesterday the ministry is aware of the report on Vietnamese new structures.

“The ministry is checking the report made by Kandal provincial authorities,” he said.

Sak Setha, an Interior Ministry secretary of state, recently said the Vietnamese had erected 42 tents at “undemarcated areas” along the border between the Mekong and Bassac rivers in Kandal province and Vietnam had only removed eight of them.

He said the Interior Ministry also instructed the Kandal provincial administration and relevant authorities along the Cambodia-Vietnam border to continue to monitor the activities of the Vietnamese side.

“In case the Vietnamese side acts improperly, it shall be immediately reported to the relevant ministries and institutions to be resolved in accordance with legal procedures,” Setha said. “The provincial administration must use as many existing mechanisms within the legal framework authorised by the governments of the two countries to resolve incidents in a spirit of friendship and good-neighbourliness.”

Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in May said the tents were set up along the border to “prevent and control cross-border travel” during the pandemic. It said when the pandemic comes to an end, the tents would be removed.

However, it said the temporary tents are located completely within the Vietnamese side which is in accordance with the factual management line measured and agreed to by the Special Working Group of the Joint Commission on Land Border Demarcation.

Cambodian Youth Party President Pich Sros and a member of the Supreme Consultative Council who observed the border issues, said yesterday that if Vietnamese soldiers install the structures along the “undemarcated areas”, Cambodia should send a diplomatic note to Vietnam.

“I want the Cambodian side to visit and inspect if the Vietnamese structures are constructed on their land or at undemarcated areas,” he said.

“If it is done on land that has not yet been agreed upon, Cambodia should not stand and keep silent, but there should be protests such as sending a diplomatic note to the Vietnamese embassy so that the Vietnamese government can withdraw from the undemarcated areas.”

The Kingdom expects to set up a total of 371 border makers along the border with Vietnam, and so far both sides have installed 315 border makers or 84 percent. The two sides are negotiating to reach an agreement on the remaining 16 percent.

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