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‘Border-some’ no more: Vietnamese dismantle structures along undemarcated areas after both PMs talk

Ben Sokhean / Khmer Times Share:
Vietnamese soldiers dismantle a structure along the border in Kandal province. Fresh News

The Cambodia Border Affairs Committee (CBAC) said yesterday that Vietnam has agreed to remove tents and structures along “undemarcated” border areas between the nations after a conversation between Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

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Mr Hun Sen had a video conversation with Nguyen on Tuesday to discuss ways and means to further promote bilateral relations as well as exchange views on regional and global issues of common interest and concerns, including collaboration in fighting against COVID-19.

CBAC chairman Var Kimhong told Khmer Times yesterday that the removal of Vietnamese tents and structures, set up since the outbreak of COVID-19 along the undemarcated border areas between Cambodia and Vietnam, especially in Kandal province, was made based on Tuesday’s talk between Mr Hun Sen and Nguyen.

The Vietnamese side has previously said that it set up tents along the border to “prevent and control cross-border travel” during the pandemic, but said the areas are located completely within the Vietnamese side.

“The tents were removed a day after the conversation,” Kimhong said, adding that the two leaders also discussed related border treaties and agreements.

“The two prime ministers also committed to resolving the remaining 16 percent of border demarcation work between the two nations,” he added.

He said the CBAC and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs tried to solve the tents issue with the Vietnamese side, including sending a diplomat note but were “unsuccessful” until the intervention from Mr Hun Sen.

The two nations in the past year agreed to write a joint letter to the French government to request more detailed maps of the border to solve the remaining 16 percent of border demarcation.

“Based on the request from both Prime Ministers, the French president has replied that they are ready to help us, meaning they already accepted our request,” Kimhong said. “In principle, they will help us…but both sides need to send them the terms of reference, which are still not yet agreed.”

He said Cambodia is committed to holding an internal meeting soon to discuss further about the “terms of reference” before more discussions with the Vietnamese side.

Kandal provincial governor Kong Sophorn said that as of yesterday Vietnamese soldiers have removed all 26 tents and solid structures along the “undemarcated” border areas between Kandal province and Vietnam’s An Giang province.

“As a result, until now [Thursday], all tents and structures set up by the Vietnamese to prevent the outbreak of COVID-19 were removed from undemarcated border areas in Ka’am Samnor of Loeuk Dek district to the border of Takeo province with a length of 29.5 kilometres,” he told Khmer Times.

Sophorn said Cambodian authorities found that Vietnamese soldiers removed all 26 structures, including 16 “solid ones” made up of concrete and wood with zinc roofs.

Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks with his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc via video conference on Tuesday. TVK

“Prime Minister Hun Sen in discussions with the head of Vietnamese government urged then to abide by previous arrangements, when An Giang province promised to remove the structures when COVID-19 is [under control]. Now the Prime Minister has asked the Vietnamese side to implement it,” he added.

He said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Interior, Border Affairs Committee as well as Border Police Protection units No 601 and No 605 cooperated with border guards and local authorities are working on and paying high attention to the issues.

“They acknowledged that the areas where they set up the tents are not agreed areas [to set up the border poles] and suggested that they would remove them when the COVID-19 situation is improving,” he added, referring to An Giang provincial authority.

Cambodia shares a 1,270-kilometre border with Vietnam and the two countries have been demarcating it since 2006.

According to CBAC vice-chairwoman Koy Pisey, the Kingdom expects to set up a total of 375 main border makers at 314 locations along the border with Vietnam.

Currently, both sides have installed 315 border makers or 84 percent with Vietnam. The remaining 16 percent are in six provinces – Ratanakiri, Mondulkiri, Svay Rieng, Kampot, Takeo and Kandal.

The two nations will hold their 18th Joint Commission Meeting at Ministerial Level on December 22 in Svay Rieng province’s Bavet city.

Vietnamese Ambassador Vu Quang Minh said yesterday he was delighted that both countries’ top leaders have been able to speak to each other frequently to express thoughts on their collaboration and mutual interests.

“This reflects the trust and fine personal ties between our leaders that serve well the common interests of our two peoples,” he said.

Ambassador Vu was also glad that COVID-19 cannot stop the two nations from continuing to deepen friendship and cooperation next month when the two sides will convene the Bilateral Joint Committee Meeting in Cambodia.

“As for the tents I have not yet received any official information, but as I said before, these tents are just contemporary necessary measures to enhance border management against the pandemic especially during the rainy season and once the mission is accomplished the tents shall be removed,” he added.

However, he said the tents were erected also “only on the Vietnamese side of the control line.”

“We explained this to your side before. Vietnam has no intention to violate our agreements regarding border control. And our side invited your side to conduct a joint examination and inspection of the area in question but so far we have not yet received a response,” he added.

According to a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the two prime ministers also reaffirmed the joint efforts in strengthening bilateral cooperation on defence and security and guaranteeing security and order at the border.

“Both sides agreed to speed up the procedures to have the instruments of ratification of the said Supplementary Treaty and the Protocol 2019 exchanged as soon as possible,” it added. “They were strongly committed to resolving the settlement of the remaining 16 percent of the land boundary work, with a view to transform the Cambodia-Vietnam border into a border of peace, stability, cooperation and development.”

Vietnam’s government statement said the talks between the two prime ministers were conducted in a “cordial atmosphere, reflecting the solidarity, friendship and affinity” between the two countries.

It said both Prime Ministers also applauded the ratification of the two border-related legal instruments, namely the Supplementary Treaty to the 1985 Treaty on the Delimitation of National Boundaries, the 2005 Supplementary Treaty and the Protocol on Land Border Demarcation and Marker Planting, by their respective legislative bodies.

“They also agreed to assign their competent authorities to co-organise future events on border cooperation,” the statement said.

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