Thailand's Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama led a delegation to Vientiane to discuss and review bilateral cooperation with his Lao counterpart on February 21-22. The visit, the first by Mr. Noppadon since assuming his new post, was in response to an invitation by Dr. Thongloun Sisoulith, Laos' Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs.
During the discussion, both sides reaffirming their intention to complete the land border demarcation by the end of this year, and the aquatic border demarcation by 2010 as previously agreed upon.
The two neighbors also pledged to work closely to combat all forms of crimes along their more than 1,800 km-long common border, especially in the area of counter-narcotics and the fight against transnational labor smuggling and human trafficking.
Another bilateral issue that the two ministers agreed to resolve by the end of this year is the issue of the Hmong refugees at Ban Huay Nam Khao in Thailand's Phetchaboun province. Thailand's Supreme Commander, General Anouphong Phaochinda, has ordered the Army of the 3rd Region, who is in charge of the Huay Nam Khao Hmong refugees, to prepare for a gradual repatriation of all the refugees back to Laos by year's end.
Lao authorities have said they are ready to take the refugees back and have made all necessary preparations to accommodate them.
Listen to our Laos Today report for more details in Lao.