Colonel Vongxay Inthakham, Head of the Lao Defense Attaché Office in Vietnam, has given an interview to the People’s Army Newspaper’ reporter ahead the first-ever Vietnam - Laos Border Defense Friendship Exchange, slated for December 12.

Deputy Defense Minister Sr. Lt. Gen. Hoang Xuan Chien checking the preparatory work for the exchange at Lao Bao international border gate

Reporter: The defense ties between Vietnam and Laos were established a long time ago. However, this is the first time the two countries are to organize a border defense friendship exchange. How do you evaluate this significant event?

Colonel Vongxay Inthakham: In the long history of national construction, defense and development, the two countries have continuously enhanced their cooperation in all fields, in which bilateral defense cooperation has enjoyed new development steps, been enhanced and brought practical outcomes.

This is the first time that the Vietnam - Laos border defense friendship exchange is to be held, making important contribution to consolidating and developing the all people’s defense and people’s security postures in border areas, safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each country, and ensuring a favorable environment for the two countries to develop socio-economy and boost trade and investment cooperation.

The event is also a good opportunity for the two sides to enhance political trust, mutual understanding, bilateral defense ties in general and cooperation between border protection forces in particular in a substantive and effective manner. This would help deepen the traditional relationship, special solidarity and comprehensive partnership between the two parties, states, and peoples.

Reporter: As you have said the exchange is importantly significant, contributing to enhancing the bilateral defense ties. How do you evaluate the bilateral defense cooperation over the past time?

Colonel Vongxay Inthakham: As we all know, Vietnam and Laos are neighboring countries sharing a borderline stretching 2,338km from the North to the South (accounting for two thirds of the country’s length). This is Vietnam’s longest land border with a neighboring country. With the shared borderline, the two countries have a special traditional friendship and close-knit solidarity. The two peoples have also shared upheavals and supported each other.

With a firm foundation laid by Vietnamese President Ho Chi Minh and Lao Presidents Kaysone Phomvihane and Souphanouvong, and fostered by generations of leaders of the two parties, states and peoples, the great relationship, special solidarity, and comprehensive cooperation between Vietnam and Laos have been developing flourishingly.

Colonel Vongxay Inthakham, head of the Lao Defense Attaché Office in Vietnam at the interview

Over the past time, despite the impacts of the COVID-19, the two sides have actively carried out exchanges and strengthened bilateral cooperation. The two defense ministries’ authorized agencies have actively and drastically implemented the cooperation contents agreed by senior leaders of the two parties, states, and militaries. Their cooperation has focused on the party and political work, training, exchange of experts, border management and protection, collection and repatriation of remains of fallen Vietnamese volunteer troops and advisors in wartime in Laos. Attentively, the two countries’ provinces with the shared borderline have promoted cooperation in controlling border, preventing illegal immigration in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, importantly contributing to ensuring political stability, socio-economic development and defense-security in each country.

Reporter: What should the two sides do to develop the bilateral defense ties to deserve to be one of the important pillars of the two nations’ relations?

Colonel Vongxay Inthakham: In the context that situations in the region and the world continue to develop complicatedly, and non-traditional security threats strongly affect international relations in a both advantageous and challenging manner, in order to protect, preserve and promote the special ties between Vietnam and Laos which have been fostered by not only sweat but also blood and flesh of generations of the two sides’ troops and civilians, the two sides should accelerate the Vietnam - Laos border defense friendship exchange. 

They should also continue double-checking and studying suitable cooperation forms with the determination that the bilateral defense ties could not been affected by the pandemic. What should be prioritized to be strengthened include joint patrols, artistic and cultural exchanges, twinning activities, information and experience sharing, dissemination to raise the public awareness of realizing signed agreements, decrees, regulations related to border and others. These will help promote mutual understanding and trust, consolidate friendship between the two peoples, enhance each country’s socio-economic development, and ensure peace, security, and stability in the Indochina Peninsula.

Reporter: You have been actively getting involved in the preparation for the first-ever Vietnam - Laos border defense friendship exchange. Could you please talk about the preparatory work for such an important defense diplomacy activity?

Colonel Vongxay Inthakham: The first-ever Vietnam - Laos border defense friendship exchange is defined as one of the most important bilateral defense diplomacy activities of the two countries this year. Therefore, the preparation has been paid due attention to and received close direction from the two sides’ leaders at all levels, especially those from the two defense ministries.

Border forces of Vietnam and Laos patrolling along a section of shared borderline

Authorized agencies inside and outside the two militaries and in relevant localities have closely worked together to carry out the work in a comprehensive manner. Getting myself directly engaged in the work, I have really been impressed with the great efforts of the Vietnamese side to ensure the exchange to take place in a friendly, united, but solemn and safe manner with the scale and form appropriate to the new normal condition amid COVID-19.

I do believe that with the two countries’ all-out efforts, the exchange will be successful, leaving deep impression on the participants, opening up a new chapter in the bilateral defense cooperation.

Reporter: Thank you very much!

Translated by Mai Huong