Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos are preparing to hold their first Ministerial Defence Friendship Meeting at the “Emerald Triangle” area, where the three countries intersect. The conference is intended to strengthen and expand solidarity, friendship and cooperation between the militaries of the three nations, and develop strategic partnerships.

According to a May 22 statement by the Ministry of National Defence, on May 18, a Cambodian working group led by General Ith Sarath, deputy commander of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF), along with representatives of the Lao People’s Army and their Vietnamese counterparts, travelled to Vietnam’s Kon Tum province, where they inspected the venue for the conference the following day.

Kon Tum is the closest town to the point where the borders of the three countries meet.

“The defence meeting will provide an opportunity for the working groups of the three countries’ armies to strengthen and deepen ties of solidarity, friendship and cooperation with each other in a comprehensive strategic partnership,” said Sarath, chairman of the working group.

He added that a direct inspection of the emerald triangle will give the three nations an opportunity to see more clearly how they can work together to guarantee political stability, security, peace and development.

Kin Phea, director of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, described the defence meeting as very important to strengthening cooperation, especially in the prevention of cross-border crime.

“They will improve their ability to prevent any future incidents. Strengthening the friendship of the three armies shows their traditional solidarity and excellent relations,” he said.

He noted that the improved military relationships will facilitate future development projects between them, especially within the regional framework along the borders.

Seng Vanly, a lecturer in international relations, believed the first defence meeting between the three nations would certainly improve border security. In the past, the intersection between Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos was known for transnational crime, but is now a development area.

“The defence conference demonstrates all of the participating nations’ commitment and close attention to order and security in the junction area. This will flow into improved cooperation in other sectors such as the economy, because insecurity can have a negative effect on investment,” he said.