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Foreign minister to visit Laos

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Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn will co-chair the 13th meeting of the Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation between Cambodia and the Lao PDR in Vientiane on Thursday. Sreng Meng Srun

Foreign minister to visit Laos

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn will lead a delegation to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) to “strengthen bilateral cooperation in various sectors and discuss regional and international issues later this week.

A ministry press release said on Monday that Sokhonn will co-chair the 13th meeting of the Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) between Cambodia and the Lao PDR together with the latter’s Foreign Minister, Saleumxay Kommasith, on Thursday and Friday in the capital Vientiane.

This visit comes as border committees of the two countries are in the process of preparing the formalities and a joint letter requesting the French government to supply maps and other related documents to settle a border dispute with Laos, covering the remaining 16 per cent of unmarked sites along the frontier.

The release said: “Sokhonn will meet with Saleumxay to discuss various aspects of bilateral cooperation with the aim of expanding the scope and depth of bilateral cooperation in all potential areas."

“He will also exchange views with his Laotian counterpart on regional and international matters of common interest”.

It also said that during his stay in Vientiane, Sokhonn would make separate courtesy calls with Lao PDR’s President and Prime Minister – Bounnhang Vorachith and Thongloun Sisoulith, respectively.

Sokhonn’s third visit to the Lao PDR since he became Foreign Minister three years ago, it continued, will “enhance the longstanding fraternal ties between the two countries”.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesperson Ket Sophann and deputy head of the Border Affairs Committee Koy Pisey could not be reached for additional comment on the developments with regard to border issues between the two countries.

In early December last year, Prime Minister Hun Sen and Thongloun agreed that their Foreign Affairs Ministers submit a letter to French President Emmanuel Macron requesting maps to the scale of 1/50,000, rather than 1/100,000.

Both Cambodia and Laos were part of French Indochina until gaining independence in 1953. French maps have been used to help settle a border dispute with Vietnam.

Territorial disputes with Laos became a hot issue after Laotian troops allegedly trespassed into the O’Alay and O’Tangav areas in Stung Treng province’s Siem Pang district, causing a standoff between the two countries.

In September last year, both Hun Sen and Thongloun agreed to designate the O’Tangav area as a no man’s land and increase joint patrols of Cambodian and Laotian troops there, following the August 2017 standoff.

The two countries share a 540km land border, but large tracts have not been officially demarcated, leading to squabbles.

As of now, only 121 border posts out of the required 145 have been set in place. The remaining undemarcated sites are located in Preah Vihear and Stung Treng provinces.

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