PMs ‘committed’ to settling border row
PRIME Minister Hun Sen and his Lao counterpart Thongloun Sisoulith have called on the French government to supply maps and other related documents to settle a border dispute, as they expressed their commit- ment to ending the spat. The two leaders were speaking at a press conference in the Lao capital, Vientiane, where Hun Sen is leading a high-level government delegation on a twoday official visit on Wednesday and Thursday to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
Aside from the request to Paris, the two sides have agreed to three principles to help ease tensions in the O’Tangav area on the border in Stung Treng province, Hun Sen said.
Hun Sen said: “Regarding the border issue, it is as Prime Minister Thongloun has said. The O’Tangav area is considered as an unresolved area linked to three conditions.
“First, no armed forces will be present. Second, no one [people from Laos or Cambodia] can set up any exploitation or professional activity in the unresolved area.
“The two prime ministers have agreed to entrust our foreign ministers to carry out the technical drafting procedure to send the [request for maps] to the French.”
The prime minister said
that he and Thongloun had jointly submitted a letter to the French president requesting maps to the scale of 1/50,000, rather than 1/100,000.
Both Cambodia and Laos were part of French Indochine until gaining independence in 1954. French maps have been used to help settle a border dispute with Vietnam.
Other documents were requested from France to help resolve the border issue involving the remaining undemarcated 16 per cent of the 540km Cambodia-Laos border.
“We call on the French president and the French government to send the documents to aid the resolution of relations between the two countries regarding the border issue. Prime Minister Thongloun and I have agreed that we should end the border issue as soon as possible,” Hun Sen said
The Cambodia and Lao governments also signed an educational agreement on the mutual provision of scholarships from 2019-2024.
A further memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed on the purchase of electricity from Lao for Stung Treng’s electr icity station, while another on cultural and arts cooperation for 20192021was inked allowing Cambodia to borrow Lao elephants for performances at Phnom Penh Safari.
“The people who live a long the border should be granted happiness. There has been a signing ceremony [regarding] t he purchase of Lao electricit y to supply to Ca mbodia, and it could be an important pa r t of t he cooperat ion i n t he elec t r icit y t rade sector f r om L a o s t o s uppl y t o Cambodia.
“As wel l as elect r icit y, we have a lso ag reed to l i n k a br idge ac ross t he [ Sekong river, which forms part of the border between the two countries] to connect Preah Vihear and Champasak provinces, which will give both peoples the opportunity to connect with each other,” Hun Sen said.
The Cambodia -Laos border issue has been rag ing since August last year, when Laos sent troops into t he disputed area in Stung Treng province, demanding a ha lt to a road being constructed by Cambodian militar y engineers, leading to a tense standoff.
According to border officials, Cambodia and Laos share a 540km border and need to install 145 demarcation posts. So far both sides have installed 121 posts, with 24 in Preah Vihear and Stung Treng provinces still outstanding.
Meanwhile, Sry Thamrong, a minister attached to the prime minister, said Cambodia and Vietnam are to sign six documents, focusing on land, water and air transport cooperation, education, border posts and the facilitation of trade, when the prime minister’s delegation lands in Vietnam for an official visit from Friday to Saturday.
Prime Minister Hun Sen walks through a guard of honour accompanied by his Lao counterpart Thongloun Sisoulith on his arrival in Vientiane on Wednesday.