Cambodia and Vietnam have committed to promoting security and order along the border, as well as closer cooperation on the management of border crossings, when they meet later this year for their 12th cross-border cooperation and development meeting.

The Ministry of Interior held an April 18 inter-ministerial meeting to prepare for the occasion.

“The meeting was chaired by ministry permanent secretary of state Sak Setha,” it said in a social media post.

Prak Sam Oeun, director-general of the ministry’s General Department of Administration, explained that the meetings have been held since 2004, with the two sides alternating hosting duties. Owing to Covid-19 concerns, the most recent was held via video link, but this year’s meeting, to be held in Vietnam, will return to a face-to-face format.

“The two sides will discuss security and order along the border, as well as the economy, trade and investment. The management of border checkpoints, communication and transportation will also be on the agenda, along with any other issues which may arise. In addition, work to repatriate soldiers’ remains will be on the table,” added the post.

Royal Academy of Cambodia secretary-general Yang Peou said on April 18 that border security and its associated issues were crucial areas for both nations to address.

“We know that the smuggling of illegal goods remains commonplace between the two nations. Although there are no official statistics, we are aware of the smuggling of fish, meat, vegetables and other items which do not meet the standards

set for consumer products. This has a negative effect on both the local economy and on public health,” he told The Post.

“A porous border could also lead to an increase in drugs entering the Kingdom. Illicit drug use can lead to the destruction of the economy and society itself. It is imperative that border security is maintained with all of our neighbours, including Laos and Thailand,” he added.

The 11th meeting was held in October 2021, via video link. Deputy Prime Minister and interior minister Sar Kheng and then-Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh stressed the importance of maintaining friendly relations and cooperation in their common border provinces.

“We must strengthen and expand ties in the spirit of good neighbourliness, traditional friendship and comprehensive cooperation to build a stable, strong and long-lasting relationship,” they said at the time.

During a November 2022 bilateral meeting in Phnom Penh, Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Vietnamese counterpart Pham Minh Chinh agreed to hold the 12th meeting in Vietnam this year.

The two sides also pledged to further promote and facilitate bilateral trade, especially cross-border trade, and to deepen economic ties between border provinces.