Friday, September 11, 2009
BANGKOK, Sept 11 (TNA) – Thailand affirmed Friday that it will repatriate the remaining 4,000 ethnic Hmong back to the neighbouring Lao PDR by the end of this year.
Thai Defence Minister Gen Prawit Wongsuwan and Lao Deputy Prime Minister Lt- Gen Douangchay Phichit met in the 17th Meeting of the joint Sub-Committee for Cooperation on Security along the Thai-Lao border held in the Thai capital on Friday.
Both sides hailed strong bilateral relations and cooperation through the exchange of government and military visits which help strengthen border security and solve border problems, especially cooperation over the ethnic Hmong who have entered Thailand illegally.
Gen Prawit said Thailand has allowed the Lao officials to visit the Hmong camp in Petchabun province and explain to them its government policy to welcome back the ethnic Hmong to their birthplace.
He said so far Thailand has repatriated 3,095 Hmong to Laos, while the remaining 4,505 Hmong will be sent back to the neighbouring country as early as possible by the end of this year.
Gen Douangchay said that the Lao government has facilitated the ethnic Hmong who returned to their land and provided them assistance to give them a better living.
The Laotian deputy premier stated that there is no anti-government movement in Laos which is now peaceful and has political stability.
The neighbouring countries also agreed to extend for another five years an agreement on security cooperation which expired last October.
They also agreed to strengthen close border cooperation to tackle drug trafficking along the Thai-Lao border.
The Laotian deputy prime minister is on an official trip to Thailand to boost the relations between the two countries. He met Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva at Government House early Friday.
The Thai premier reaffirmed Thailand's intention to repatriate the ethnic Hmong to Laos as many as it can within this year, but he added that there should be flexibility on the period of time and good understanding between the two countries will help solve the problem successfully. (TNA)