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Vietnamese soldiers still at disputed border stretch

Khuon Narim / Khmer Times Share:
A tent which was set up by Vietnamese soldiers in the disputed stretch. Police

Vietnamese soldiers who set up tents at a disputed border stretch in Kandal province have refused to dismantle them.

Please also read: Tents along Dambok Chev-An Giang border removed

Provincial Governor Kong Sophorn said yesterday the soldiers claimed they have set up the tents at the stretch in Koh Thom district in order to prevent border crossings amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“According to our border police officers who are negotiating with the Vietnamese soldiers, they said they will remove their tents when the COVID-19 situation eases,” he said.

Kandal provincial police officers on Sunday inspected the stretch near the border gate which had recently been closed to prohibit the entry of people amid the virus pandemic.

During the inspection they found that Vietnamese soldiers had erected tents in 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.

Mr Sophorn said authorities in Kandal and An Giang provinces will hold more meetings to discuss the removal of the tents from non-demarcated areas.

He said the Vietnamese set up the tents about four to five metres away from the stretch which Cambodian border police are patrolling.

“We wanted them to set up their tents about 400 to 500 metres away,” Mr Sophorn said. “The Vietnamese soldiers said they do not intend to violate Cambodian territory and will report the situation to their higher authorities.”

Mr Sophorn added there have been no clashes at the disputed stretch.

“Officials are jointly working on the demarcation issue in order to develop the border areas to benefit both countries,” he said.

Var Kimhong, chairman of Border Affairs Committee, said yesterday he is waiting for a detailed report on the incursion from the local authorities.

“I have not received information on the exact location where they built the tents,” he said. “However, it is in an area where we have not reached an agreement and we are continuing negotiations to reach a solution with Vietnam, including seeking assistance from the French [on border maps].”

In October, Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc signed documents to ratify 84 percent of border demarcation work completed between the two nations.

The Kingdom shares a 1,270-kilometre border with Vietnam and the two nations have been demarcating it since 2006. The agreement with Vietnam came one month after Mr Hun Sen and Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith ratified 86 percent of the border between their two countries.

Sok Touch, President of Royal Academy of Cambodia, yesterday expressed concern the Vietnamese are still trying to seize Cambodian territory.

“We asked the Vietnamese not to inhabit or develop border stretches which are not yet demarcated,” he said, adding based on an agreement both countries must not erect new structures less than 100 metres from the grey area zone.

“Yes, we are concerned [about territorial violation], so the military and border protection police have to patrol those areas daily,” Mr Touch added.

Koy Kuong, Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman, said yesterday it is waiting to receive a report from the Border Affairs Committee.

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