Cambodian and Vietnamese armed forces on Wednesday took part in joint exercises along their common border in Svay Rieng and neighbouring Long An provinces to enhance rescue measures in the event of disasters such as floods and forest fires.
Minister of National Defence Tea Banh and Vietnamese counterpart Ngo Xuan Lich attended the drills and closed the training exercises on Wednesday.
Banh said at the closing ceremony that the process had been productive.
The drills served to maintain peace and stability along the Cambodia-Vietnam border, and fostered stronger relations and deeper two-way trust, collaboration and mutual understanding between the two armies, he said.
“[The troops] carried out field training in humanitarian work to save lives in the event of a disaster. Such events require us to collaborate closely and effectively to save victims,” Banh said.
He said the drills aimed to strengthen capacity, with experiences exchanged between the armed forces, relevant authorities and people living along the border.
“Exchanging experiences through joint exercises in terms of disaster rescue and humanitarian work helps maintain peace, security and safety along the border of our countries. We will continue this every year based on protocols of collaboration between the armies.
“These joint drills will promote collaboration in national defence, security and political sectors, as well as further diplomatic and military ties.
“It will lead to improved sharing of information, collaborations in activities to combat offences along the border, such as terrorism, cross-border crimes, drug trafficking, human trafficking, the illegal export and import of goods, and illegal logging of forests,” Banh said.
Ministry of National Defence secretary of state and chair of the Cambodia-Vietnam Disaster Relief Exercise Committee Moeung Samphan told reporters while observing the drills on Tuesday that they aimed to ensure victims were saved as soon as possible in the event of a disaster.
“Natural disasters can occur without warning. So these drills aim to ensure that people along the border who are affected by natural disasters will be saved efficiently and effectively,” he said.
Former Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmaker Ou Chanrath welcomed the joint drills, saying they would strengthen military collaboration and bilateral relations.
“This is a friendly collaboration between neighbouring countries to serve the interests of people in the event of a disaster. I welcome the drills,” Chanrath said.
On Monday, Prime Minister Hun Sen said the drills aimed to increase preparedness to help save lives during a disaster. Helping people along both sides of the border was not an invasion, he said.
He made the remarks after some social media users expressed concern that holding the joint drills on Wednesday in Svay Rieng province was part of a Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia.