Laos and Cambodia Renew Commitment to Strengthening Bilateral Cooperation

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Foreign minister Prak Sokhonn (second right) and his Lao counterpart Saleumxay Kommasith (second left) at a meeting in February (Cambodia Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Internal Cooperation)
Foreign minister Prak Sokhonn (second right) and his Lao counterpart Saleumxay Kommasith (second left) at a meeting in February (Cambodia Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Internal Cooperation)

Cambodia and Laos have said they are committed to exploring opportunities to develop and advance their “close and comprehensive collaboration” for the mutual benefit of each country.

The commitment will be discussed at the 14th meeting of the Cambodia-Laos Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) on 7 July, according to a press release from Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

The meeting, held in Phnom Penh, will be co-chaired by Lao Minister of Foreign Affairs Saleumxay Kommasith and his Cambodian counterpart, Prak Sokhonn.

Saleumxay will also pay a courtesy call on Prime Minister Hun Sen before the meeting, which will also review the progress following the agreed minutes of the previous JCBC meeting.

Yong Kim Eng, president of the Phnom Penh-based People Centre for Development and Peace, was quoted by Phnom Penh Post as saying that cooperation between Cambodia and Laos has improved in recent years.

He said he hoped the bilateral cooperation would “end past hostilities” regarding the countries’ shared border, which has seen confrontations in the past.

Tensions flared in mid-2017 when Cambodia claimed troops from Laos had encroached on its territory.  The country began a military buildup at the border with Laos, with tensions only defused after then-Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith flew to Cambodia for talks.

“For some time now, we have not heard of hostilities between the two countries. At the same time, I think cooperation between neighboring countries will lead to mutual opportunities and benefits,” said Yong Kim Eng.

“Even though both countries don’t have strong economies, there are still many opportunities for cooperation,” Kim Eng said.

Cambodia and Laos became closer during the Covid-19 pandemic, with the southern neighbor donating vaccines, medical equipment, and cash to Laos during a visit by Prime Minister Phankham Viphavanh in November last year.

Cambodia and Laos also spoke of plans to construct a new bridge linking the two nations when their leaders met in Japan in April.

A railway link has also been under discussion, with members of the Cambodia Logistics Association (CLA) visiting Laos from 21-23 June to explore the idea of setting up a railway link connecting Cambodia with Laos to save transport time and costs.

Both sides have pledged to continue to explore new areas of cooperation through trade, investment, education, tourism, and people-to-people connections.