Cam­bo­dian leader: Bor­der cri­sis with Laos averted

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Cam­bo­dian Prime Min­is­ter Hun Sen, who threat­ened Fri­day to use force over a bor­der cri­sis with neigh­bor­ing Laos, an­nounced yes­ter­day that the sit­u­a­tion had been peace­fully re­solved af­ter he made a light­ning trip for face-to­face talks with his Lao­tian coun­ter­part.

Hun Sen, an en­thu­si­as­tic user of so­cial me­dia, an­nounced on his Face­book page that he had suc­cess­fully ne­go­ti­ated with Lao­tian Prime Min­is­ter Thon­gloun Sisoulith to have a small con­tin­gent of Lao­tian troops with­drawn from dis­puted fron­tier ter­ri­tory, with Cam­bo­dia also to re­move its sol­diers. His Face­book page showed video of the two lead­ers at a news con­fer­ence.

Hun Sen flew to the Lao­tian cap­i­tal, Vi­en­tiane, on Satur­day morn­ing, a trip an­nounced just the day be­fore, when he had set an Aug. 17 dead­line for Lao­tian troops to withdraw or be con­fronted by Cam­bo­dia’s mil­i­tary. News me­dia close to Hun Sen’s govern­ment had shown troops in the Phnom Penh area mo­bi­liz­ing Fri­day night.

Bor­der crises

Cam­bo­dia and Laos have gen­er­ally warm re­la­tions as both had fra­ter­nal com­mu­nist gov­ern­ments af­ter 1975. Hun Sen said Fri­day that the prob­lem be­gan in April when about 30 Lao­tian sol­diers en­tered a no-man’s-land on the bor­der to stop Cam­bo­dian mil­i­tary en­gi­neers from build­ing a road on what Cam­bo­dia main­tains is its ter­ri­tory in Stung Treng prov­ince.

Hun Sen’s crit­ics have ac­cused him of us­ing past bor­der crises with Thai­land to boost his pop­u­lar­ity. Cam­bo­dia’s last major bor­der dis­putes were with Thai­land from 2008 to 2011, and were widely seen as ben­e­fit­ing Hun Sen po­lit­i­cally, as he was able to por­tray him­self as a na­tion­al­ist pro­tec­tor of the country’s ter­ri­tory. His party won a strong vic­tory in the 2008 gen­eral elec­tion, but lost seats in 2013 and is ex­pected to face a strong chal­lenge next year. The state news agency of Laos, KPL, re­ported Thon­gloun’s re­marks on the agree­ment by both sides to withdraw mil­i­tary forces from the dis­puted area be­tween the Lao­tian prov­ince of At­tapeu and Cam­bo­dia’s Stung Treng.

“Today, we had frank talks in a friendly man­ner and in or­der to res­train the sit­u­a­tion in that area from be­ing in­ten­si­fied and con­se­quently de­vel­op­ing into mil­i­tary con­fronta­tions, I and Prime Min­is­ter Samdech Hun Sen have agreed that the Lao side will withdraw the re­main­ing mil­i­tary troops that have been left there since Prime Min­is­ter Samdech Hun Sen or­dered the stop­page of build­ing an ac­cess road in that area,” the Lao­tian prime min­is­ter was quoted as say­ing.

He said he had or­dered his country’s sol­diers to withdraw no later than Sun­day morn­ing, and that Hun Sen was like­wise or­der­ing his troops to stand down. Thon­gloun said at their joint news con­fer­ence that the two sides agreed that their for­eign min­istries and bor­der com­mit­tees would con­tinue talks on de­mar­cat­ing the bor­der where mark­ers have not yet been in­stalled. —AP

PHNOM PENH: Cam­bo­dian Prime Min­is­ter Hun Sen, sec­ond from right, walks as he ar­rives from a trip to Laos at the air­port. —AP

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