Lao border talks progressing
Thailand and Laos have made progress on the demarcation of land boundaries and hope to complete the task by the end of next year, ministers of the two countries said here yesterday.
The two countries also plan to finish the demarcation of the 1,100-kilometre Mekong River boundary by 2010. Demarcation of 676km, or 96.3 per cent, of the 702km land boundary has been completed over the past five years.
The Thai-Lao Joint Boundary Commission (JBC) was established in 1996 to clarify the 1,810-kilometre boundary.
Officials of the two neighbours also overcame four difficult areas where natural watersheds have been destroyed. These stretches were the Huay Kon-Muang Ngern Pass in Nan province, the Phudu Pass, the Huay Tang-Pang Fai Pass and the Huay Phrao-Nong Pachert Pass in Uttaradit province.
Three remaining stretches that must be decided on by the end of next year are in the controversial areas of Ban Romklao in Phitsanu-lok, three villages in Uttaradit and Chong Mek-Vang Tao in Ubon Ratchathani.
Ban Romklao and the three villages of Ban Mai, Ban Klang and Ban Savang are disputed areas where both sides claim sovereignty and were a cause of conflict between the two countries in the 1980s.
"The difficulties of the demarcation in these areas are due to technical problems, but as we have a strong political will to overcome the problems, I think we can finish the job," said Thai Foreign Minister Nitya Pibulsonggram.
Yesterday's meeting in the old Lao royal capital of Luang Prabang agreed that commission officials should have frequent meetings to speed up the process, said Lao Fo-reign Minister Thongloun Sisoulith.
"With close cooperation, I think the remaining areas in the three villages [of Uttaradit and Laos' Xayaboury province] could be finished sooner than Ban Romklao, where different interpretations remain of the [Siam-Franco] Treaty," he said in a separate interview.
Officials from both sides will start to conduct aerial photography for mapping this month before beginning the demarcation process and plan to complete the task by 2010.