Laos, Thailand hold border talks
Lao Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Thongloun Sisoulith and his Thai counterpart Surapong Tovichakchaikul yesterday held talks on Lao-Thai bilateral relations, focusing on border issues.
The talks took place during a working visit to Laos by Surapong and his delegation, a press release from the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
The two ministers also discussed preparations for the upcoming 9th Lao-Thai Joint Border Committee (JBC) and the 18th Lao-Thai Joint Commission (JC) on bilateral cooperation, to be hosted by Bangkok.
According to the press release, both sides were appreciative of the progress made in surveys and border demarcation, which began in 1997.
The two sides have surveyed and demarcated 204 points on their shared land border over a distance of 676 kilometres, which is 93 per cent of the total 735 kilometres. The 676 kilometres demarcated constitute 37 per cent of the total shared border (land and water) of 1,835 kilometres.
Regarding border demarcation along the Mekong River, both sides have taken steps to make a new map to facilitate surveys and demarcation in this area.
At the 17th JC meeting held in March last year in Vientiane, both sides rescheduled plans to complete land border demarcation by 2014 after failing to meet a previous deadline slated for 2008 . Meanwhile, water territory demarcation is set to be completed by 2016 after failing to be finished by 2010.
The Lao government attaches great importance to border demarcation, believing that territorial integrity is a valuable legacy for future generations.
At last year's 17th JC meeting, co-chaired by Thongloun and Surapong, both sides reached consensus to boost investment and border trade and to resume talks on completing border demarcation. They also vowed to take steps to legalise undocumented Lao workers in Thailand.
Other outcomes of last year's JC meeting included agreement on building a fifth Lao-Thai friendship bridge to link Bung Kan province in Thailand and Borikhamxay province in Laos. Bangkok also confirmed it would expand road links with Laos via the Mekong friendship bridges in support of Laos' efforts to become a land link within the region.
Thailand is among the top three foreign investors in Laos. Bilateral trade value reached almost US$4 billion in 2011, up by 35.83 per cent compared to 2010. The governments of the two countries agreed last year to double the value of bilateral trade to US$8 billion by 2015.
This is to be achieved by addressing barriers to trade and investment, particularly at border crossings and immigration checkpoints.