The new Lao ambassador to Cambodia, Buakeo Phumvongsay, pledged to further strengthen the relationship between the two countries and increase their level of cooperation accordingly.

Buakeo was welcomed to his new diplomatic posting at a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen on April 11 at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh.

“Buakeo will do his best to further strengthen the relations and cooperation between the two countries to another level based on the existing good cooperation and relations,” Hun Sen’s Facebook post said after the meeting.

Hun Sen welcomed and congratulated Buakeo on his appointment as the new Lao envoy, agreeing with his remarks regarding bilateral relations.

“We really have a special relationship because the historical factors left us to continue to strengthen and expand it forever and now trade relations between the two countries have increased stronger,” Hun Sen said.

He told Buakeo that the no-face mask option was allowed in the three provinces bordering Laos, as the provinces were recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic.

In this regard, Hun Sen asked Buakeo to consider promoting cross-border trade activities and looking into the urging of other possible potential trade, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

On April 10, Hun Sen announced that people in four provinces should make their own decision on whether to wear or not to wear face masks, namely Ratanakiri, Mondulkiri, Stung Treng and Preah Vihear.

Buakeo thanked the Cambodian people and the government of Cambodia for helping the government of Laos and the people of Laos to prevent the spread of Covid-19 through the provision of medical materials, vaccines and vehicles to transport vaccines as well as funding, according to the Facebook post.

Last month, Cambodia donated 10 trucks of Covid-19 vaccines, Cambodia’s fourth humanitarian donation to Laos to help increase Covid-19 vaccinations in that country and further strengthen bilateral ties between those two countries.

In December 2021, Cambodia delivered 500,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines and three vaccines trucks to Laos, while in September 2021 Cambodia provided 200,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines to their northern neighbor and ally.

On March 15, Buakeo presented his diplomatic credentials to Senate President Say Chhum, in his capacity as the acting Head of State of Cambodia while King Norodom Sihamoni was away.

Heng Kimkong, a visiting senior research fellow at the Cambodia Development Centre, said small countries like Cambodia and Laos need to work together to strengthen their relationships and cooperate more on cooperation, adding that they can learn from each other and find ways to navigate national and regional challenges.

“Relations between both countries are strong, but in the context of great uncertainties it is important to further strengthen the relations in all areas,” he told The Post on April 11.