The Ministry of Interior and Laos’ Ministry of Public Security have reiterated their joint commitment to preventing cross-border crime and promoting the socio-economic development of the border regions.

The pledge came at a March 19 meeting between interior minister Sar Kheng and Lao public security minister Vilay Lakhamphong during the former’s three-day visit, according to the interior ministry’s press release.

“The two sides signed a joint document on plans for further cooperation in 2023. [Sar Kheng] expressed his satisfaction with the outcome of the meeting and his high hopes for future collaborations between the two ministries,” it said.

Sar Kheng’s visit, made at the invitation of Vilay, concluded on March 20.

The ministry continued that the visit was a result of the annual bilateral cooperation mechanisms between the two ministries.

‘Potential unlocked’

Seng Vanly, a lecturer of international relations, said the three former nations of Indochina – Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos – are all focused on the economic and tourism development of their triangle regions.

“The area was once the scene of serious conflict, but now its potential is being unlocked,” he said.

Vanly pointed out that not only Cambodia and Laos, but also Vietnam, are cooperating to resolve issues along their shared border.

“This is in line with China’s Belt and Road Initiative [BRI] investment framework, and the leaders of the three nations pay frequent visits to one another. Following the Covid-19 crisis, the Chinese government is strengthening the BRI framework in the Greater Mekong Subregion, with the trilateral Cambodia-Vietnam-Laos framework as a key point,” he said.

“Cambodia and Laos have been trying to resolve their border issues for a long time, but it was difficult due to the pandemic. Now, progress is being made,” he added.

Vanly suggested that reciprocal visits by the leadership of both countries would benefit domestic investment, especially from the BRI.

During a mid-February courtesy meeting, Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Lao counterpart Sonexay Siphandone discussed a range of issues, including trade and investment, air connectivity and tourism, the fight against cross-border crimes and education exchanges.

The meeting aimed to deepen friendly relations and solidify the brotherhood between the two nations.

The two leaders also noted with satisfaction that bilateral trade had increased from $160 million in 2021 to $210 million in 2022. They reaffirmed their intention to further boost bilateral economic development through closer cooperation.