Cambodia, Laos Sign Border Crime Pact, Sidestep Land Dispute

Cambodia and Laos on Tuesday reaffirmed their cooperation to prevent border crime, including drug trafficking, but a recent military border dispute involving soldier surges and arguments over post construction was left off the negotiating table, an official said.

Interior Minister Sar Kheng met with Laotian Public Security Minister Somkeo Sylavong on Tuesday morning to discuss tackling cross-border crime before signing the annual pact, National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith said.

“This was a ceremony on strengthening cooperation for both countries for 2017. We distributed information about terrorism across borders and crime, and the most important topic was drug trafficking at the border,” General Chantharith said.

The agreement was a significant part of the government’s renewed campaign to combat drug trafficking and narcotics use, which was launched in January, he said.

In recent months, there have been flare-ups of tension on the border with Laos over disputed border posts, resulting in military standoffs on disputed tracts of land. Both Cambodian and Laotian troops have sought to block their counterparts from building in or near the contested area over the last year.

Hundreds of Laotian soldiers crossed into Cambodian territory in February to prevent military engineers from building a road, leading Cambodia to marshal additional forces in response.

However, the issue was not broached on Tuesday between the two officials, Gen. Chantharith said.

“We did not discuss the border issue because our duty is to strengthen cooperation and prevent crime along the border,” he said.

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