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Cambodia Seeks Resolution of Vietnam Border Spat

FILE - Cambodia's and Vietnam's flags fly in Phnom Penh, June 14, 2016. (Hean Socheata/VOA Khmer)
FILE - Cambodia's and Vietnam's flags fly in Phnom Penh, June 14, 2016. (Hean Socheata/VOA Khmer)

Cambodia's border affairs committee has told its Vietnamese counterpart to halt all construction and development projects that overlap Cambodian territory.

Speaking at a meeting with their Vietnamese counterparts in Phnom Penh, the Cambodian officials vowed to forcefully dismantle any construction on its soil.

Long Visalo, a secretary of state with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that he told the Vietnamese delegation that "if they dare to build, I will give orders for the building's removal."

He added that some locals residing in proximity to the development projects are awaiting a response to an order to have nine water catchment ponds dug on Cambodian soil filled in. Since 2011, Cambodia has sent more than 20 diplomatic letters to Vietnam to protest what it calls encroachment on its territory.

Visalo said Vietnam has always maintained that the construction was only occurring on Vietnamese land.

"One side says it's Cambodian land, the other side says it's Vietnam's," he added. "Now they agree to end the saga by taking the issue up with relevant ministries."

Va Kim Hong, head of the border committee, said a joint letter to request the aid of former colonial power France in resolving the dispute has not yet been sent, as there was an ongoing disagreement about wording and contents.

Mao Monyvann, an opposition lawmaker with the Cambodia National Rescue Party, said the talks would not lead to a positive result for Cambodia without the help of a third party, such as France.

"I think it's time for us to push for a resolution with the participation of powerful countries, or sue in an international court," he said.

This report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Khmer Service.