On July 23, Vietnam and Laos carried out a joint patrol between their border guard forces. The move, which is part of a wide inaugural border friendship exchange, illustrates the continuing attention both sides are paying to border issues as they commemorate two key anniversaries in their diplomatic relationship.
As I have noted before, border management remains a key issue in the Vietnam-Laos bilateral relationship as it is a means through which both sides can promote border trade while also managing transnational challenges such as drug trafficking or migration. As both countries are marking the 55th anniversary of the establishment of Vietnam-Laos diplomatic relations as well as the 40th anniversary of signing Vietnam-Laos Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, it is no surprise that border management has been a focus (See: “Vietnam-Laos Border in the Spotlight Amid Anniversary Celebrations”).
As part of this effort, earlier this month both sides had announced that they would carry out the first Vietnam-Laos border friendship exchange in the northern province of Son La on July 22-24.
This week, the two countries carried out the border friendship exchange as scheduled. Apart from activities such as music performances by Vietnam and Lao artists and martial art demonstrations, it also included a joint patrol between the border guard forces at Border Marker 255 which had been completed by the countries back in 2012.
According to Vietnamese media reports, the patrol was carried out by the border guard forces at Long Sap border gate in Son La and Company 214 in Huaphanh, Laos. It was witnessed by Vietnamese Deputy Defense Minister Senior Lieutenant General Be Xuan Truong and his Lao counterpart Lieutenant General On Si-Sen Suc.
Few additional details were provided on the border patrol. But apart from witnessing it, the two deputy defense ministers also co-chaired a ceremony to launch a friendship border medical station in Bo Sap village which was jointly constructed by people from Bo Sap village of Moc Chau district and Muong village in Laos.
As I noted in an earlier piece, apart from this inaugural friendship border exchange, both sides will aim to make other advances in this area as well during the rest of the year. They are expected to again take stock of ongoing cooperation on border issues at their 27th annual meeting which will be held in Vietnam in December. The 26th meeting had occurred in Vientiane back in January, and the two border delegations had discussed various measures to further boost border management and protection.