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.

Supalak Ganjanakhundee

The Nation

Luang Prabang

Thai-Laotian Border War 1988 (top View)
The map date 1970. The Google Line date as today of 2014. 
View from Thailand side

Road construction is the main cause for border conflict in Laos as well as in Cambodia by Vietnam Project Implementer. 

Thailand-Laos Border War (1987- 1988)


BEGAN: December, 1987
ENDED: February 19, 1988

Border War
PREDECESSOR: (Related conflicts that occurred before)
Thai-Laotian Border Clashes (1980)
Thai-Laotian Border Clashes (1984)

CONCURRENT: (Related conflicts occurring at the same time)

SUCCESSOR: (Related conflicts that occur later)

In 1907, France (the colonial ruler of Laos), and Thailand (then known as Siam), signed a border treaty which later caused a dispute over the ownership of some border villages. Shooting broke out in 1984 over possession of three villages. Another cause of tension between the two Southeast Asian neighbors was the ongoing Hmong Rebellion in Laos. The rebels used bases in Thailand and often crossed the border to attack the Communist Laotian government.
It should also be noted that Thailand enjoyed an alliance with the United States, while Laos was a close ally of Communist Vietnam and the Soviet Union. These types of connections tended to make neighborly relations hostile in the tense atmosphere of the Cold War.

Fighting broke out in December of 1987 in a dispute over land claimed by Laos, which considered the territory as part of the Laotian Botèn District in Xaignabouri and by Thailand as part of Chat Trakan District in Phitsanulok Province.
Over 1,000 troops died before a cease-fire was put in place.

Following the cease-fire in 1988, the two nations developed improved relations and increased trade.
Total Casualties: Approximately 1,000 for both sides

SOURCES:Library of Congress Country Study : Laos

Thais Airlift Troops to Laos Border Conflict; Second Plane Lost
February 15, 1988|United Press International
BANGKOK, Thailand — Thousands of Thai troops, backed by tanks and artillery, were airlifted into a bloody border zone Sunday to secure disputed territory from Laos before peace talks begin.

The military also confirmed the downing of a Thai bomber by Laotian anti-aircraft fire Saturday. It was the second Thai warplane lost in 11 weeks of fighting that has killed hundreds of men on both sides.

The 3rd Army Region command said 3,000 troops were airlifted from regional headquarters at Pitsanulok into the disputed border area 77 miles to the northeast. About 10 tanks and some artillery also were moved in the airlift conducted by about 50 helicopters.

Talks Start Tuesday

Military observers said the army wants to consolidate its border position before scheduled peace negotiations begin Tuesday in Bangkok between a Laotian military delegation and Thai officials.

Artillery duels continued Sunday over ownership of a 27-square mile strip of jungle-covered hills on the Thai-Laotian border, 270 miles north of Bangkok.

"We have to reinforce and rotate fresh troops into the area," said Col. Rithi Rangaputhi, 3rd Army region spokesman.

"This is part of changing tactics. We do not reject (peace) talks, but they are still on our soil and we must push them out," said Rithi.

The dispute between Thailand and Laos began last May when Thais began logging the area's virgin jungle. Laotian forces moved into the area and reinforced a network of bunkers and tunnels that Thai villagers said were left by Thai Communists about 10 years ago.

Disputed Maps

Fighting erupted in November when Thai troops tried to drive out the Laotians. Both nations are basing their claim to the area on disputed maps stemming from a 1907 treaty between Thailand and France.

Radio Laos said the downed Thai bomber was one of eight warplanes attacking Laotian positions.

"Saturday, the armed forces and people (of Laos) shot down one Thai OV-10 bomber aircraft while it and eight F-5 fighter-bombers were intruding in Lao territory to barbarously bomb and strafe Ban Nakok village some 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) from the (Thai-Lao) border," Radio Laos said.

Rithi confirmed the shooting but said the bomber was on a reconnaissance mission.

Fruitless Search

Three Thai helicopters, an OV-10 and two F-5E jets braved heavy anti-aircraft artillery Sunday in a fruitless search for the downed bomber and its two pilots, who were seen parachuting from the aircraft by Thai ground troops, Rithi said.

"About 400 Lao troops have been killed and up to 600 wounded in the fighting so far," Rithi said while declining to disclose Thai casualties.

An Interior Ministry official at a Thai district near the disputed area said civilians were moving to the homes of relatives farther inland.

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