Laos says it will withdraw troops as Cambodia's Hun Sen visits

Danny Woods
August 12, 2017

Cambodia's prime minister says dozens of soldiers from neighboring Laos have entered Cambodian territory.

"I have ordered relevant authorities to pull back troops by tomorrow morning", Laos' premier Thongloun Sisoulith said through a translator.

Speaking at a ceremony in the capital Phnom Penh, Hun Sen said that he has ordered a temporary halt to road construction in northeastern Cambodia's Stung Treng province challenged by Laos to give its soldiers a chance to leave.

Cambodia and Laos on Saturday on Saturday agreed to withdraw their troops from the border between them Cambodia had accused Laotian troops of encroaching on its territory.

Thongloun said that he and Prime Minister Hun Sen also agreed that border committees of the two countries and the Foreign Ministries would continue to have talks to find solutions to issues related to the border, where border markers have yet to be planted, as soon as possible.

Hun Sen hailed the agreement as a "big success for both nations" and ordered his soldiers to turn around.

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"Most world leaders would issue warnings like this", he said.

Hun Sen said that on Friday he ordered Cambodian troops to be sent to the border area in northern Stung Treng province, and after the fruitful talks with Sisoulith, he chose to order all troops to return to their barracks.

The Lao government should complain to the International Court of Justice in The Hague if it truly believes the land to which it has sent troops belongs to Laos, Hun Sen said, adding, "We should go to court together in order to avoid bloodshed".

In a news conference after the meeting, broadcast live on Hun Sen's Facebook page with simultaneous translation into Khmer, the Lao leader said he had ordered the withdrawal.

The neighbours said they would ask border officials to work on demarcating the disputed patch of their 540-kilometre land border, where terriorital squabbles are fairly common.

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