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Laos to reduce border tensions

Ven Rathavong / Khmer Times Share:
PM Hun Sen shakes hands with his Lao counterpart in April in Siem Reap province. KT/Ven Rathavong

Cambodia and Laos agreed to de-escalate tensions along the border in Stung Treng province during a meeting at the World Economic Forum, a government official attached to Prime Minister Hun Sen said yesterday.

In August 2017, Lao troops invaded the Ou Alai and Ou Ta Ngav areas in Stung Treng’s Siem Pang district during a dispute about the construction of a road near the border.

In response, Mr Hun Sen ordered thousands of troops to be deployed to the border while giving an ultimatum to Laos to withdraw its forces from within six days.

A day later, Mr Hun Sen flew to Vientiane to talk with Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, after which Laos agreed to withdraw its troops.

Kao Kim Huon, Minister Attached to the Prime Minister, said yesterday at Phnom Penh International Airport that both governments agreed to expand their military ties through a three-point resolution.

“The first and second points are related to both sides withdrawing all troops from the disputed areas,” Mr Kim Huon said. “Third, we will hold joint patrols together. The patrols could be conducted by ground personnel or by using drones.”

He noted that the Cambodian military has ordered its commanders to withdraw from the disputed Ou Ta Ngav area.
Mr Kim Huon said that Cambodian troops are expected to make a withdrawal by 5pm today.

Mr Kim Huon said that respective Foreign Ministries are to be informed regarding the decision and that a joint border committee consisting of officials from both countries will periodically review the situation.

“Prime Minister Hun Sen said that this is a joint effort in order to defuse border tensions between the two countries,” he said. “If there’s an issue at the border, then the joint committee will immediately go to where the incident is and report to their respective governments.”

The joint patrols will also aim to combat criminal activities along the border, such as drugs and human trafficking, Mr Kim Huon added.

Meanwhile, Mr Kim Huon also announced that King Norodom Sihamoni, Queen Mother Monineath Sihanouk and Prime Minister Hun Sen will go on an official state visit to Vietnam in December.
He said that the purpose of the visit is to enhance cooperation between both countries.

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