The government has sent Hanoi a formal letter to complain about an outpost it claims Vietnam is building along a disputed stretch of border where both governments have supposedly agreed to refrain from any development.
“We protested after receiving a report from the Ratanakkiri provincial authorities about the building of the post and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already sent a diplomatic note to Vietnam to ask that building stop immediately,” Var Kimhong, Cambodia’s chairman of the Joint Border Committee, said on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Hun Sen, right, and his Vietnamese counterpart, Nguyen Tan Dung, inaugurate a new border demarcation post in Ratanakkiri province in December. (Reuters) Mr. Kimhong declined to comment on the outpost further and referred additional questions to the Foreign Affairs Ministry. The ministry’s spokesman, Chum Sounry, could not be reached.
Nhem Sam Oeun, a deputy Ratanakkiri governor, said the post was being built by what appeared to be Vietnamese border police in a so-called “white zone” along O’yadaw district’s frontier with Vietnam.
“Vietnam has wanted to build a post there for a long time, but we stopped them,” he said. “Half a month ago, they started building again. We have banned them from building, but sometimes they build at night when our forces don’t know about it.”
Mr. Sam Oeun said the Vietnamese had laid the foundation for the outpost more than a year ago and that their latest efforts have resulted in the addition of a few concrete columns. He said they stopped construction when a Cambodian delegation traveled to the site just over a week ago.
Cambodia sent Vietnam a similar letter last year to complain about a set of irrigation ponds its citizens and soldiers had built along the same stretch of border; it claims that Hanoi agreed to fill them in.
Mr. Kimhong on Tuesday said the ponds had remained as they were.
CNRP lawmaker Mao Monyvann said he visited the ponds about two months ago and corroborated Mr. Kimhong’s account.
“We seem to have no power,” he said, suggesting a top-level meeting between the two governments was needed to settle the dispute for good.
sony@cambodiadaily.com, narim@cambodiadaily.com
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