PM opens Laos border checkpoint
Prime Minister Hun Sen and Lao President Bounnhang Vorachith met yesterday at the inauguration of a checkpoint on the border between both countries, subsequently reaching an agreement to allow residents on both sides to cross freely with only a special border pass.
The announcement was made as the Trapaeng Kreal border checkpoint leading from Laos’ Champasak province to Stung Treng province was opened to the public.
Mr. Hun Sen said the new international checkpoint is an important development in the relationship between the two countries and would strengthen cooperation between them.
The border gate will allow them to expand economic relations and “improve the living conditions of the citizens of both countries for the better.”
He added that both governments agreed to create a border pass that residents in both countries can use to cross through the checkpoint.
“I would like the provincial authorities, local authorities and forces along the border of the two countries to educate and spread this information to local citizens about the use of this border pass,” he said.
He added that he wanted Cambodian police officials to work with their counterparts in Laos to stop cross-border crime.
During the ceremony, the premier thanked Laos for selling cheap electricity to Cambodia, most of which is used in Stung Treng and Preah Vihear provinces.
Cambodia, he said, would allow Laos to use its roads, waterways and ports along the Mekong River to facilitate trade in areas of Laos that are hard to reach.
As for the demarcation of the border between the two countries, deputy president of the Cambodian Border Committee Koy Pisey told a local media outlet that they have finished more than 83 percent of the border markers.
Border committee members have cited the “83 percent” statistic for more than a year when asked how far along Cambodia was in the demarcation of its borders with Laos as well as Vietnam.
Little progress has been seen since officials first said 83 percent of the border demarcation had been finished last February.
Cambodia and Laos share a 540 kilometer border with 145 border posts. Until now, only 121 border posts have been officially demarcated.
Sok Touch, the Royal Academy’s head border researcher, said the border pass agreement with Laos is special because the kingdom only has a similar agreement with Thailand.
The border pass, he said, should contribute to a reduction in crime along the border.
“The challenge that has occurred between Cambodia and Laos is that Cambodians go to do logging in Laos, while Laos takes drugs through Cambodia,” he said.
“So the border pass will contribute to helping police combat those crimes.
“If we look to the Vietnam border, it is difficult and it is hard to enter their country even though they can enter our country easily. This has led to anarchy.”
Cambodia is still working on demarcating its border with Vietnam, of which officials said 83 percent had been finished.
Late last year Vietnam asked France to mediate disputes over a handful of areas claimed by both sides.
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