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Cambodia and Laos seek to speed up Terms of Reference on border

Khuon Narim / Khmer Times Share:
Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn and his Lao counterpart Saleumxay Kommasith. MFIAC

Cambodia and Laos have urged their respective working groups to finalise a Terms of Reference document concerning the border that divides the two countries noting that France has been asked to assist in helping end border disputes.

Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhonn led a delegation to Laos for the 13th Meeting of the Cambodia-Laos Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation on Thursday and Friday in Vientiane.

In a statement issued on Saturday, the Foreign Affairs Ministry said both sides had cordial and in-depth discussions on wide-ranging areas of cooperation.

“Both sides also discussed the border issue and encouraged the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the two countries to finalise soon the TOR complying with the core contents of the Joint Letter of the two Prime Ministers dated September 6, 2017 addressed to the President of France,” the ministry statement said.

According to the Cambodia Border Affairs Committee, both governments have already demarcated 121 of 145 border posts.

In September last year, Cambodia and Laos agreed to ease tensions along the border in Stung Treng province following a 2017 invasion in Siem Pang district by Lao troops.

Lao troops entered the Ou Alai and Ou Ta Ngav areas during a dispute over the construction of a road near the border.

On August 11, 2017, Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered thousands of troops to be deployed to the border, while giving an ultimatum to Laos to withdraw its forces within the week.

A day later, Mr Hun Sen flew to Vientiane to talk with his counter-part Thongloun Sisoulith, after which Laos agreed to withdraw its troops.

Saturday’s statement noted the trade volume between the two countries had been growing but is still limited, and both sides agreed to further facilitate bilateral trade to accelerate the implementation of the Agreement on Promotion and Protection of Investments.

On security matters, both sides agreed to continue sharing information to prevent human trafficking and promote cooperation between the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and their Lao counterparts, it said.

“Both sides also agreed to raise their people’s awareness on the border documents concluded by the two countries and to strengthen cooperation in preventing activities such as illegal migration, illegal trading and illegal border crossing along the border,” the statement added.

Koy Pisey, Border Affairs Committee vice chairman who attended the meeting, declined to comment and referred questions to Ministry spokesman Ket Sophann who could not be reached for comment.

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