Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodian delegation to visit Laos to discuss border



Cambodian delegation to visit Laos to discuss border

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn attends the 52nd Asean Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and Related Meetings in Bangkok last month. Sokhonn is to lead a delegation on a two-day visit to Laos on Thursday. ministry of infornation

Cambodian delegation to visit Laos to discuss border

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn will lead a delegation to Laos on Thursday to strengthen bilateral cooperation, particularly regarding border issues, after the countries faced tensions between their armed forces last month in an area where border markers had not been clearly demarcated.

“The visit aims at strengthening and expanding the scope and depth of bilateral cooperation, including [the] border issue, as well as cooperation within regional and international forums of shared interest,” the ministry said in a press release on Wednesday.

The delegation is set to visit Laos on Thursday and Friday at the invitation of Laos’ Minister of Foreign Affairs Saleumxay Kommasith.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesperson Ket Sophann could not be reached for comment.

Kin Phea, the director of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, told The Post the visit was intended to enhance Cambodia-Laos relations.

“Border issues will also be raised in order to clarify the situation for mutual understanding because there have been some misunderstandings recently.

“Overall, Cambodia and Laos have traditionally been good brothers and neighbours. The two countries rarely face challenges or conflicts with each other, whether political, cultural or border issues. The visit is more about deepening the ties between the two countries,” he said.

Phea said the border issue was a sensitive subject and he was not certain that Sokhonn’s visit would resolve the countries’ concerns completely, because some disagreements remained regarding mapping and technical aspects, which had prompted the two nations to ask France to intervene.

“However, it’s possible to show that they have taken a diplomatic stand to resolve their differences peacefully.

“Using diplomatic means is better, so people can see that the two countries have no problem with each other,” he said.

Raising the border issue with a face-to-face visit would help relieve the situation, Chea said, as some members of the public had wrongly come to believe that Cambodia and Laos had serious challenges.

Political analyst Em Sovannara told The Post that the visit was a positive move, but should have been undertaken earlier – soon after the border challenge was made in the Mom Bei area of Preah Vihear province.

“I don’t think there are any major issues. This can be addressed with proper application,” Sovannara said.

Minister of National Defence Tea Banh last month dismissed media reports of a tense border confrontation between Cambodian and Lao troops, putting the incident down to a “misunderstanding” as the area had yet to be fully demarcated.

Some local media outlets published reports of a renewed confrontation between Cambodian and Lao troops at the Tonle Pov river in the Mom Bei area, saying Cambodia had increased its troop presence and had been ready to move the residents of four villages in two communes in Chom Ksan district in case of an exchange of fire.

However, Banh rejected reports that the situation at the Cambodia-Laos border had been tense.

“There has been no confrontation as published [by some media outlets], and after the prime ministers of the two countries spoke, the situation will return to normal very soon.

“There were some words exchanged [between troops], but the two leaders spoke and found a solution so there is no problem,” Banh told The Post on August 28.

The part of the Cambodia-Laos border in question has yet to have border markers installed, so some Cambodians who were unaware of the demarcation had planted crops, which Lao troops removed, he said.

The Cambodians then reported this to the Cambodian soldiers, which led to a misunderstanding.

In 2017, there was a months-long stalemate over a contested piece of borderland in Stung Treng province, where Lao forces had blocked Cambodian military engineers from building a road.

Eventually, in August of that year, the Lao troops occupying territory south of the Sekong River withdrew peacefully after Prime Minister Hun Sen gave them a six-day deadline to leave and dispatched two military brigades and members of his personal Bodyguard Unit to the border.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Businesses in capital told to get travel permit amid lockdown through One Window Service

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration has issued guidelines on how to get travel permission for priority groups during the lockdown of Phnom Penh, directing private institutions to apply through the municipality's One Window Service and limit their staff to a mere two per cent. In

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Ministry names types of business permitted amid lockdown

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training singled out 11 types of business that are permitted to operate during the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takmao town, which run through April 28. Those include (1) food-processing enterprises and slaughterhouses; (2) providers of public services such as firefighting, utility and