Lao Prime Minister Phankham Viphavanh has reiterated his position of support for strengthening cooperation between the Cambodian and Lao armies to build a border of friendship and peace, and make it possible for the peoples of the two countries to exchange economic and health services.

He made the pledge during an August 30 meeting with Lieutenant General Hun Manet – Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) and Commander of the Royal Cambodian Army – who was on a three-day visit to the neighbouring country in the capital Vientiane.

“Phankham made mention of the long-standing relations and solidarity between the two countries, and hoped that our respective militaries would cooperate to build a border of culture which would aid in sharing prosperity,” the RCAF said in an August 30 press release.

It added that Phankham had congratulated Cambodia on its strong chairmanship of ASEAN 2022 and its commitment to wisely addressing ongoing problems and challenges in the region and the globe. He thanked the government and the people of Cambodia for helping Laos and its people in times of crises and emergencies, especially the Covid-19 pandemic.

In return, Manet thanked Phankham for fostering cooperation between the two militaries, saying that it strengthened the bonds of friendship and solidarity between the two countries and their peoples.

He professed his admiration for the rapid development of Laos and for supporting Cambodia in its role as chair of ASEAN.

Thong Mengdavid, a research fellow at the Asian Vision Institute’s Mekong Centre for Strategic Studies, said Cambodia and Laos’ relationship focused mainly on economic, political and military cooperation – although they had once clashed over border issues. Military cooperation was a core sector that fostered peace and boosted the economies of the peoples on the borders.

“In addition to this, Cambodia and Laos rely on one another to exchange information regarding human trafficking and other illegal cross-border activities. Military diplomacy is also an important strategy for the two countries to understand and learn from each other, foster and build trust and enhance security and the welfare of the peoples in the Mekong region,” he added.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on August 30 chided an unnamed critic in a social media post, saying that Manet had just completed his visit to Laos, where he had joined the Chief of the General Staff of the Lao People’s Army in reviewing troops. Manet was also greeted by Laos’s president, prime minister, as well as deputy prime minister and defence minister.

The post was an apparent response to the analyst who commented that Manet’s recent visit to Vietnam was to receive orders and ask the leaders of Vietnam to back his candidacy for the prime ministerial post.

“What does this analyst think about Manet’s visit to Laos? I didn’t want to ask him about it last time, but when Manet visited Japan early last year, our Japanese friend sent a plane to collect him as there were no commercial flights due to Covid. What did the analyst make of this? I am not attempting to be sarcastic, I just want to understand how this person thinks,” it said.

At the recent graduation ceremony for university students, Hun Sen made it clear that Cambodia did not require the backing of any other nation to select prime ministerial candidates.