Vietnam, Cambodia Boost Defense Ties

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Vietnam and Cambodia have vowed to boost defense cooperation between their two nations following high-level talks, Vietnamese media outlets reported earlier this week.

At talks held on March 6 in Ho Chi Minh City, the defense ministers of the two countries signed the Protocol and Plan for Cooperation in 2015 between their two ministries.

According to media reports, the two ministers – Vietnam’s General Phung Quang Thanh and Cambodia’s General Tia Banh – agreed to continue to boost defense ties in areas including military exchanges, education and training; searching for, retrieving and repatriating the remains of Vietnamese soldiers in Cambodia; and coordinating the management of border areas.

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The two sides also reviewed their defense cooperation to date. Thanh thanked the Cambodian government and defense ministry for their assistance thus far, particularly in recovering remains of Vietnamese soldiers who were killed in Cambodia during the war. He also affirmed the Vietnam People Army’s willingness to increase its support for the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces in Cambodia’s national development process.

Both sides also noted improvements in the defense relationship, including through enhanced cooperation in personnel training, border protection and sea joint patrols that had facilitated economic development in border areas. They agreed that defense ties were one of the key pillars of the overall bilateral relationship.

The talks were held during the March 6-7 visit of a high-ranking delegation of the Cambodian defense ministry led by General Tia Banh to boost defense ties. He also serves as Cambodia’s deputy prime minister.

Defense ties between the two sides have strengthened over the past few years, with Vietnam providing the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces with military equipment, infrastructure, and training. By one count, Vietnam provided $21 million in military assistance to Cambodia last year, when the two countries celebrated the 35th anniversary of their so-called ‘joint effort’ to drive the Cambodian genocidal Khmer Rouge regime out of power on January 7 (the reality, as The Diplomat has noted previously, is much more complex).

2015 has already seen continued advances in this regard on several levels. On 27 February, the Cambodian army inaugurated a military maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility funded by the Vietnamese defense ministry. And earlier that month, the military headquarters of Vietnam’s southern province of Tay Ninh and the Cambodian province of Tbong-Khmum signed a memorandum of understanding on military cooperation focusing on seven areas of cooperation, including combating trans-border crime, mutual support on border delineation, land marker planting, and maintaining public order.

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