Hun Sen invites Lao PM to the Kingdom

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Laos Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith at the Asean Summit Retreat. AFP

At the invitation of Prime Minister Hun Sen, Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith will lead a delegation on an official visit to Cambodia on Thursday and Friday, to strengthen bilateral relations.

A press release announcing the visit came after the two countries’ foreign affairs ministers met in Laos to discuss border issues last week.

Government officials did not confirm the specific goal of the Lao prime minister’s visit to Cambodia, but it takes place as the two countries continue to discuss how to demarcate the remaining 14 per cent of the border​.

The countries faced tensions late last month between their armed forces in the Mom Bei area of Preah Vihear province, where the border has not been clearly demarcated.

On Thursday and Friday last week, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sakhonn made an official visit to Laos and met with his Lao counterpart Saleumxay Kommasith and Thongloun.

A press release issued on Saturday reporting on the outcome of Sakhonn’s visit said the foreign affairs ministers held discussions in good faith in an attempt to find a solution to the remaining border issues and promote cooperation between the two countries.

“The two ministers agreed to coordinate closely to ensure that the upcoming official visit of His Excellency Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith to Cambodia will be successful,” the press release said.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesman Ket Sophann did not confirm what topics would be discussed by Hun Sen and Thongloun this week.

“With regard to the border with Laos, we have completed 86 per cent of the border demarcation.

“So the leaders [the foreign affairs ministers of Cambodia and Laos] discussed in good faith the issues remaining over the last 14 per cent of border markers,” he said on Sunday.

Cambodia and Laos share a 540km border. Some 145 border markers have been installed, with 24 more yet to be put in place, pending an agreement between the two parties.

Early this year, Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation sent a letter to its Lao counterpart to seek an agreement over the submission of a draft to the French President requesting a map to resolve the remaining issues.

On Sunday, Border Commission chairman Var Kimhong said discussions about the remaining border marker demarcation remained stalled.