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Cambodia, Vietnam to Hold Border Talks Next Week

Cambodia and Vietnam say they will hold border talks next week, following clashes between Cambodian activists and Vietnamese border security forces.

The head of Cambodia’s border committee, Var Kim Hong, told VOA that Phnom Penh would raise a number of sensitive issues with Hanoi, including road-building, pond-digging and the construction of a military outpost by Vietnam, all of which have come under fire as alleged encroachment.

“We’re asking them to suspend these activities, because … we have not completely demarcated in any areas or any provinces,” he said. “We should not make any changes to the environment, and we have to keep the status quo.”

The Vietnam-Cambodia Joint Border Committee will start three days of meetings in Siem Reap on Monday.

At least 10 people were injured in Sunday’s clash along the border of Svay Rieng province, when Cambodian opposition officials led a delegation to investigate reported encroachment by Vietnam.

Photos and videos posted on Vietnamese and Cambodian social media showed the crowds from the two sides faced off in a tense atmosphere, with occasional fights between small groups from each side.

Var Kim Hong said next week’s meetings are not being held in response to the clashes, but the clashes will be addressed.

He added that neither side has the right to cross into non-demarcated zones.

“So they had the right to block us,” he said.

Cambodia's main opposition party has called for Phnom Penh to seek help from the International Court of Justice. But Var Kim Hong said the solutions to the border problem were being addressed bilaterally and investigated.

He also dismissed opposition calls for Cambodia to nullify border treaties with Vietnam, both from the 1980s and 2005, saying Cambodia gained much in those agreements.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Khmer service.

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