The Kampong Chhnang provincial military sub-region has inked an agreement to continue its collaboration with Vietnam to locate the remains of Vietnamese soldiers and volunteers who were killed on Cambodian soil.

A signing ceremony took place at the provincial military sub-region on November 8, presided over by Mom Sopheap, deputy commander, and Finh Van Ngon, military deputy commander from Vietnam’s Division 9. Also in attendance was Oun Sophea, deputy governor of Kampong Chhnang province.

Kampong Chhnang military sub-region reported that from 2002 to 2023, Cambodia located the remains of 368 Vietnamese, and repatriated them. It described the ongoing collaboration as a reflection of the Kingdom’s commitment to honouring the sacrifices made during this period.

Van Ngon expressed his gratitude for the efforts of the local authorities and community members, and offered his appreciation for their ongoing dedication.

Sopheap commending the spirit and sacrifices of the Vietnamese, highlighting their joint efforts with the Kampuchean United Front for National Salvation to liberate Cambodia from the genocidal regime of the Khmer Rouge in January 1979.

He reiterated his commitment to the search efforts, and emphasised the importance of reuniting them with their families.

Yang Peou, secretary-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, described how the search for the remains demonstrates the mutual support shared by both nations. He noted that this effort reflects a tradition in both foreign and political relations, echoing the history of post-colonial government relations with neighbouring countries.

“The pursuit of these remains holds significance, as it symbolises mutual support and expresses the gratitude of Cambodia towards the Vietnamese Volunteer Army. Their sacrifice played a crucial role in aiding Cambodia during the overthrow of the Khmer Rouge regime,” he said.

Thong Mengdavid, a research fellow at the Asian Vision Institute’s Mekong Centre for Strategic Studies, added that this responsibility is shared by each nation.

He also highlighted the historical cooperation between Cambodia and Vietnam, who extended their assistance to the US to locate the remains of its soldiers who perished during the wars of the 1960s and 1970s.

“Cambodia and Vietnam hold the sacrifices made by their ancestors for the national cause in high regard. Between 1978 and 1979, Vietnamese troops, alongside the Kampuchean United Front for National Salvation led by Heng Samrin and Hun Sen, initiated an offensive to liberate Cambodia from the genocidal regime of Pol Pot. Unfortunately, this campaign resulted in the loss of many Vietnamese troops,” he said.

During a recent visit to Ho Chi Minh City, the Cambodian army, led by senior minister Pol Saroeun, reached an agreement with Vietnam to enhance cooperation in the search, collection and repatriation of the remains of Vietnamese soldiers.