UN asked to defuse bomb row

Mom Sophon / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
One of the many bomb sites recently discovered in a school yard. KT/Mai Vireak

The Minister of Foreign Affairs is to file a request with the United Nations that US chemical bombs be cleared from Cambodian territory.

The move comes as diplomatic relations between the US and Cambodia continue to deteriorate over the legacy of bombs left from the Vietnam War.

The request to the UN will seek a resolution on the issue in line with international law on chemical weapons usage.

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Prak Sokhonn will also ask the UN to send experts to investigate and evaluate the impact of chemical weapons in Cambodia.

The Fresh News quoted Mr Sokhonn as saying that UN intervention was necessary to clear up the dispute over the bombs.

However, he stopped short of saying when the request to the UN would be submitted.  A spokesman for the ministry was also unable to confirm a timescale for the matter yesterday.

The US Embassy earlier this month issued a statement over chemical bombs in Cambodia, prompting outrage from Prime Minister Hun Sen, who described it as an insult to Cambodian people.

The statement said the use of tear gas was controversial, but clear procedures existed by which to dispose of it, and there was no evidence linking it to long-term health problems or birth defects.

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“The United States believes we should all work together to clear explosive remnants of war in Cambodia and throughout the world,” the embassy said, adding the US also takes seriously its responsibility to address its own war legacies and is always willing to consider  requests for assistance.

The US also said it had spent more than $131 million on removing unexploded ordnance from the country over the past two decades, including US, Chinese, Vietnamese and Soviet bombs.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said yesterday that the request to the UN would demonstrate Cambodia is a fully independent and sovereign nation.

“It will be a clear demonstration of a sovereign and independent country protecting its interests,” he said.

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