Cambodian monks protest against religious rights in Vietnam

Phnom Penh, Cambodia - Fifty Cambodian Buddhist monks have protested outside the Vietnamese embassy calling on the communist-run nation's visiting president, Nguyen Minh Triet, to allow greater freedom of religion.

More than 100 riot police armed with electric-shock batons and AK-47 rifles lined up outside the embassy as officials tried to persuade the saffron-robed monks to leave.

The protesters said police in southern Vietnam had recently arrested and disrobed nine ethnic Cambodian Buddhist monks.

"We want the Vietnamese authorities to give them the right to practice Buddhism," one of the

monks, Hol Pirom, said.

Mr Triet was due to meet King Norodom Sihamoni at the start of a two-day state visit to Cambodia.

He will also hold talks with Prime Minister Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge rebel who fled to Vietnam in the late 1970s before returning with the 1979 invasion that brought an end to Pol Pot's four-year reign of terror.

Vietnam denies accusations by international human rights groups that it represses human rights and religious freedoms.