Laos and Thailand have added 15 more demarcation poles along their common land borders, raising the total number of markers separating their land and river boundaries to 204 since joint operations on border demarcation began in 1997.
The Lao-Thai Joint Technical Sub-Committee reported, during its 11th meeting last week, June 4-6, in Vientiane to assess their works, that the markers were added between May 2007 and the end of May 2009, during which period both sides were also able to complete a survey of 679 Km more of their common land borders, bringing the total land boundaries that have been surveyed up until now to 93%. That means there is only 51 Km of their common boundaries left to be surveyed and demarcated.
The demarcation project is being implemented according to an agreement reached between the foreign ministers of the two nations, who met earlier this year in the 15th meeting of the Lao-Thai Joint Committee on Border Demarcation in their capacity as co-chairmen of the committee. During the meeting that was held in Luang Prabang, they agreed on completing all border demarcation on land by the end of this year.
Regarding their river boundaries, of which the two neighbors share a 1,100 Km stretch along the Mekong and Heuang rivers, both parties agreed to relentlessly continue their joint survey and demarcation operations so that they can reach their set goal of completing the work by 2010. But if the past is any indication, it is doubtful that they will be able to do so. The goal of completing border demarcation has been elusive to the two nations twice already. They had originally agreed to finish the job by 2003 for land border demarcation, and by 2005 for river boundaries.
The main obstacles have been conflicts over proofs, including maps of many border areas that each party uses as references such as the cases of the controversial Huam Kao village and three other villages, namely Ban Savang, Ban Kang and Ban Mai, located on the border between Laos’ Sayabouly Province and Thailand’s Uttradith, that have resulted in armed conflicts between the two countries.
Songrit Pongern reported in Lao on June 11, 2009. For more details in Lao, listen to his report or read our Lao version. (English translation by Buasawan Simmala and Dara Baccam)