Cambodia, Laos agree to withdraw troops from border

Lawrence Kim
August 12, 2017

Prime Minister of Cambodia Hun Sen called on Laos on Friday to withdraw troops he said have been present in Cambodia since April, threatening military action against the neighboring country if its soldiers are not pulled out by August 17, Cambodian media and other sources said.

"We are friends, but a friend can not step on (our) head", said the mercurial leader, who often leans on ultra-nationalist rhetoric to drum up support, especially ahead of election season.

Hun Sen said he had also ordered Cambodian forces sent to the border - truck-mounted rocket launchers and ground troops - to pull back in response to Laos's agreement to withdraw.

After the talks the pair announced the issue had been resolved in a joint press conference, broadcast live on Hun Sen's Facebook.

"I have ordered all relevant forces to withdraw not later than tomorrow morning".

"Our biggest success is that there is no dispute that can't be solved", Hun Sen said at the news conference.

"The big success for us - our two nations - is that we don't have any dispute that we can not settle".

Cambodian troops were seen riding through the capital Phnom Penh in armored military vehicles to reinforce defences at the border.

The construction of the road has been halted under the order of Hun Sen to maintain niceties with Laos.

Hun Sen said at a ceremony in Phnom Penh about 30 soldiers from Laos had crossed into the area and that some of them remained there during daytime.

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.

Comments on Cambodian social media meanwhile called Hun Sen's warning of military action a ploy to gain popularity ahead of national elections next year, positioning him as a "leader who dares to protect his country from invasion". To date, the two neighbors have completed 86 percent of the border demarcation.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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