On June 9, Cambodian and Lao officials will plant a historic pole to start marking the border between the two countries.
Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng said Wednesday the ceremony will begin the first effort to map the Cambodia-Laos border in more than 20 years.
Sar Kheng, who will lead a delegation of more than 20 Cambodian officials to the event, said that progress is possible even on knotty border issues if both sides are understanding.
“We did not create any problems. We took a stance of peace and negotiation,” said Sar Kheng. He said he hopes similar progress can be made in border talks with Cambodia’s two other neighbors, Thailand and Vietnam.
Prime Minister Hun Sen and Laotian Prime Minister Sisavath Keobounphanh discussed the border dispute during the Lao premier’s state visit last month. Disputes over Cambodia’s borders have prompted a number of angry demonstrations in Phnom Penh by student groups and the opposition, who claim Thailand, Vietnam and Laos are encroaching on Cambodian land.
While border disputes with Thailand and Vietnam have yet to be resolved, Var Kim Hong, chief of the Council of Ministers’ commission on border disputes, was upbeat Wednesday on the Laos situation. “Everything is going well. There are no problems.”
Officials at the Laotian Embassy in Phnom Penh were equally upbeat, saying the border issue is essentially resolved and the ceremony will mark the beginning of the mapping process.
However, a Cambodian official close to the process said there are still areas of dispute but they are slated to be resolved during the marking process.
After the ceremony, demarcation teams from both countries will begin surveying the 540-km border and planting the marker poles. Officials hope the work will be done by the end of the year. Laotian Embassy First Secretary Bounmy Ophalavong said the ceremony will be attended by the Laotian Minister of Interior Asang Laoly and Laotian Ambassador to Cambodia Ly Southavilay.
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