Vietnam and Laos should step up cooperation in combating illegal drugs, an issue that has been a growing mutual concern for the two countries for years, said Deputy Minister of Public Security Pham Quy Ngo on Aug. 22.

Ngo, who is also Chairman of the National Committee for Drug Control, made the comments at a reception for a delegation from the Lao National Committee for Drug Control led by Chairman Soubanh Srithirath.

Ngo said that since agreements between the two countries were signed in 1998 and 2001, Vietnam and Laos had tightened information exchange and cooperation to curb trans-national drug rings. There had also been many discussions on ways to better fight drug trafficking at border areas considered as crime ‘hot spots'.

"Increased co-operation has really helped in uncovering drug trafficking rings between Vietnam and Laos ," Ngo said.

For his part, Soubanh Srithirath expressed his hope that Vietnam , which had about 20 years of experience in fighting drug crimes, would share their experiences in the field with Laos , which had been developing its anti-drugs operations for two years.

Deputy General Director of the Crime Control Department Vu Hung Vuong said drug trafficking in the ‘golden triangle' between Vietnam, Laos and Thailand was still a complicated challenge, especially in the north-west region.

More than 9,700 cases of crimes were detected and 2,000kg of heroin, 22kg of marijuana and 180,000 ecstasy tablets were seized in the first half of this year.

The Vietnamese Government plans to spend 3 trillion VND (144 million USD) on drug prevention and control in the upcoming time.

A conference between Vietnam , Laos and Thailand will be organised in November to combat drug crimes along the East-West Economic Corridor./.