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Jabs donation for Laos ‘pays it forward’ to friend in need

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Foreign ministry permanent secretary of state Uch Borith (right) and Lao health minister Bounfeng Phommalaysith during the handover ceremony at the Trapang Kreal-Nong Nok Kien international border checkpoint on Tuesday. TVK

Jabs donation for Laos ‘pays it forward’ to friend in need

Cambodia has donated 200,000 doses of the Sinovac Covid-19 vaccines to Laos to contribute to their fight against the pandemic.

The vaccines reached the Trapang Kreal-Nong Nok Kien international border checkpoint between Stung Treng province and Laos’s Champasak province on September 28.

The vaccines were accompanied by Uch Borith, permanent secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. They were received at the border by Laotian Minister of Health Bounfeng Phommalaysith, according to the National Television of Cambodia (TVK).

In a letter to his Lao counterpart Phankham Viphavanh on September 27, Prime Minster Hun Sen said: “In the spirit of our traditional solidarity and friendship between our two sister-countries, [Cambodia] would like to present to [Laos] an additional package of 200,000 doses of vaccines to contribute to your country’s endeavor to fight against this deadly disease.”

Hun Sen said that it was sad that after nearly two years of the pandemic many countries around the world were still struggling with resurgent Covid-19 outbreaks. This has prolonged global economic difficulties and put people’s basic welfare under pressure.

Cambodia and Laos are no exception to these troubles with both countries suffering from persistent community infections due to the fast-mutating variants, he said.

The prime minister also expressed that it was his pleasure to have met in person with General Secretary Thongloun Sisoulith of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party at the consultation meetings held in Hanoi recently.

“This face-to-face meeting allowed us to have a very in-depth discussion and a fruitful exchange of views on enhancing our fraternal friendship and cooperation between our countries in order to address our common challenges,” he said.

At the vaccines handover press conference at the border, Bounfeng said the government and people of Laos expressed profound thanks for this invaluable assistance from Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Cambodia government and people.

“Moreover, I believe that under the clever leadership of the government led by Prime Minister Hun Sen, Cambodia will be able to eliminate all transmission of Covid-19,” he said.

Kin Phea, director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, told The Post on September 28 that vaccine diplomacy with Cambodia’s neighbors was politically smart and the right thing to do in light of the generosity many other nations have shown to Cambodia through donations of vaccines.

He said that the Cambodian assistance – offered while the nation is itself still dealing with the spread of Covid-19 – showed the heartfelt warmth that characterized relations between the two countries.

Although Cambodia is still relatively poor, Phea noted, it has often offered non-financial assistance to other countries when possible, citing as one example Cambodia’s decision to allow a cruise ship full of stranded passengers to dock early in the pandemic, which was very helpful to and much appreciated by Cambodia donor countries like the US whose citizens were on board.

“Cambodia’s deeds prove the wisdom of those who say that we are a ‘small country with a big heart’,” he said.

Back in 2020, Cambodia donated two million facemasks and other pieces of personal protective equipment to other nations with the total value of the supplies exceeding $2.2 million.

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