The armies of Cambodia and Vietnam have agreed to hold joint military exercises to strengthen their cooperation. The exercises will focus on combating transnational crimes and disaster rescue, and are intended to ensure peace, stability, public order and security along the borders of both countries.

The agreement was made during an annual meeting between Cambodian army commander General Hun Manet and Chief of the Vietnam Border Guard Command Lieutenant General Le Duc Thai, held in Phnom Penh on April 17.

The Ministry of National Defence said in a press release that both sides agreed to continue their cooperation as stated in their 2019 joint statement made on the protocols for bilateral defence cooperation for 2020-2024, as well as their annual cooperation plan for 2023.

They also committed to abide by an MoU on border cooperation and make it more effective.

“We have contributed to the promotion of friendship between the governments and peoples of the two countries, as well as maintaining peace, stability, public order and security along the border. All of these benefit trade, tourism and the livelihoods of the people of both nations,” added the release.

To make the cooperation more active, the ministry said both sides have agreed to place a priority on several areas. These include combating Covid-19, facilitating border demarcation and border marker planting, combating transnational crimes of all kinds and human resource development.

“This is the purpose behind our scheduled joint exercises on disaster rescue and transnational crime prevention,” it said.

Kin Phea, director of the International Relations Institute, said military cooperation between Cambodia and Vietnam, as well as the coming joint exercises, are good things because neighbouring countries should always seek to work together.

“As we are neighbours, cooperation in many different sectors – including defence, the economy, commerce, tourism and culture – is important. It is worth mentioning that there have been no notable issues between them in the recent past,” he said.

“Defence cooperation between Cambodia and Vietnam still needs to be strengthened. It must be based on mutual respect in the manner of good neighbours. Both sides should avoid interfering into each other’s internal affairs or trying to take advantage of one another,” he added.