Hun Sen seeks western help on Vietnam border

Cambodian officials show the map they've been using. Courtesy RFA.

Cambodian officials show the map they’ve been using. Courtesy RFA.

The Cambodian Prime Minister, Hun Sen, has written to the leaders of France, Britain and the United States in an effort to resolve a border dispute with Vietnam.

He has been severely criticised by opposition leaders in Cambodia for allegedly selling out to Vietnam by accepting its position over the disputed strip of land.

Cambodian and International media reported he had appealed to the former colonial power, France, for the loan of a highly detailed map that was used to finalise the border a half century ago.

He’s also appealing to President Obama and David Cameron of Britain to verify the map, as their countries were present at talks in 1964 that demarcated the frontier.

There were confrontations on the disputed land at the end of June between Vietnamese villagers and Cambodian activists.

The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party has accused Hun Sen of using a map provided by the Vietnamese authorities.

He first took power after the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia in 1979 and analysts say he feels vulnerable to charges by Cambodian nationalists that he is too compliant towards Hanoi.

Hun Sen is also requesting that the western countries send a team of experts to confirm that the map he is using is in line with the so-called “Bonne” map agreed in 1964.

He earlier wrote to the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, requesting the loan of the UN’s version of the map. Reports say he has yet to receive a reply.

Opposition leaders are quoted as accusing Hun Sen of refusing to disclose publicly the map he is using – claiming that it is one supplied by Vietnam.

Hun Sen said his request to the western leaders was aimed at building a peaceful border with neighbouring countries for the sake of regional peace and the Cambodian people.

Opposition supporters have threatened to step up their campaign over the small strip of land on the border, which is about half way between the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City.