Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association

Laos, Cambodia pledge greater cooperation on border, labor, electricity

Cambodia and Laos on Thursday signed agreements to increase electricity imports into Cambodia, cooperate on labor issues, and “ensure peace and stability” along the at-times contentious Laotian-Cambodian border.

The deals came during Laotian Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith’s official Phnom Penh visit on Thursday and Friday.

The two sides announced five agreements on Thursday related to several topics:

  • Cooperation on labor issues, signed by the labor ministers of the two countries, Ith Samheng for Cambodia and Khampheng Saysompheng for Laos.
  • Cooperation in the power sector, signed by the respective energy ministers, Suy Sem and Khammany Inthirath.
  • Additional imports of electricity from Laos into Cambodia, signed by Electricite du Cambodge director Keo Rattanak and Electricite du Laos director Bounoum Syvapheng.
  • A purchase agreement for 600 MW of coal-fired power from TSBP Sekong Power and Minerals.
  • A purchase agreement for 1,800 MW of coal-fired power from Sekong Thermal Power Plant.

According to a joint statement, Sisoulith was accompanied by delegates including Laotian Foreign Affairs Minister Saleumxay Kommasith.

Sisoulith laid wreaths at the Independence Monument of Independence to pay homage to Cambodian soldiers, and paid his respects at the statue of the late king Norodom Sihanouk. He also met Senate president Say Chhum, National Assembly president Heng Samrin and Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The countries agreed to elevate their relations into a long-lasting strategic partnership, the statement said, noting that they would endeavor to promote stability on their shared border.

Last month, the Cambodian Army accused Laotian troops of encroaching on Cambodian soil in Stung Treng province. Tensions along the border have been recurring, with periodic troop build-ups.

“Both sides agreed to encourage their respective relevant authorities, at the central and local levels, to implement their respective duties with a high sense of responsibility in order to ensure peace and stability along the common borderline between Cambodia and Lao PDR to turn it into a border of lasting peace, friendship and cooperation,” the joint statement said.

Both sides would encourage their respective officials in the border provinces to hold regular meetings and consultations in order to promote close cooperation and mutual assistance in all areas of mutual interest, it said.

The statement also pledged “non-interference” in each other’s internal affairs, a policy strongly espoused by China and frequently repeated by Cambodia in response to criticisms from democratic countries over human rights concerns.

“The two sides shall continue to develop their friendly relations based on the international law, respect for the principles of non-interference into each other’s internal affairs, non-use of force or threat of force, peaceful settlement of disputes, and not allowing any foreign political group or armed forces to use their respective territory against the other side,” it said.

The two sides also declared Phnom Penh and Vientiane sister cities.

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