Laos, Cambodia Pledge Pull-Back of Troops From Border as Tensions Ease

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Cambodian soldiers travel along a road in Preah Vihear province in a file photo.
Cambodian soldiers travel along a road in Preah Vihear province in a file photo.

Laos and Cambodia have agreed to pull military units away from the countries’ shared northern border by the end of this week in a move aimed at easing tensions, sources in both countries said.

Speaking to RFA’s Khmer Service on Tuesday, Preah Vihear provincial governor Prak Sovann said that the governments of both countries have agreed to withdraw their troops following fears of escalation last week leading to possible armed conflict.

Cambodian troops will redeploy not far from the area, though, he said, adding, “Troops will remain near the border.”

Meanwhile, Cambodia’s Phnom Penh Post in an Aug. 25 report said that the Lao and Cambodian prime ministers had spoken on the phone to resolve the situation.

“At 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 24, I made a direct call to [Lao] Premier Thongloun Sisolith, and we had a very friendly discussion and agreed to withdraw our troops from the unmarked border area,” Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said, quoted by the Post.

Both leaders also agreed to continue talks to ease tensions between the two countries, the Post said.

On Tuesday, the website of the Lao People’s Army said that senior military leaders—Major Gen. Soukai Phommasone, the provincial military commander of Champassak province in Laos, and Lieut. Gen. Duangchan, commander of Battalion 9 of the Cambodian army—had met to discuss tensions on the border.

Both sides will now withdraw their troops from the disputed border area on Aug. 29 between 8:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m., and will set up a joint committee of five military officers from each to side to monitor the situation on the border, the Lao website said.

Tensions flared on Aug. 11  when Lao and Cambodian troops confronted each other in an area along the border called Mom Bei, with one source close to a high-ranking Lao military officer telling RFA that Cambodian soldiers had ordered Lao troops to withdraw within three days or face military action.

Reports of the border dispute came as Cambodia’s government has sought to downplay reports of the announced return from exile on Nov. 9 of political opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who has vowed to lead a restoration of democracy in the authoritarian Southeast Asian nation despite threats of arrest.

Reported by RFA’s Lao and Khmer Services. Translated by Max Avary and Sok Ry Sum. Written in English by Richard Finney.





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