Laos to withdraw troops from disputed border area with Cambodia

Laos to withdraw troops from disputed border area with Cambodia

Laos to withdraw troops from disputed border area with Cambodia

Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith and his visiting Cambodian counterpart Samdech Techo Hun Sen agreed here on Saturday to withdraw their troops from disputed border area between Attapu of Laos and Stung Treng of Cambodia.

"Anyway, the discussion today was frank and friendly, so that the area would not lead to forces being confrontational", he said.

Thongloun said he was sorry he had not responded to an August 2 letter from Hun Sen seeking withdrawal of the troops. "I have ordered all relevant forces to withdraw not later than tomorrow morning", Thongloun said at a joint press conference as quoted by Laotian state-run news agency KPL.

The spat escalated yesterday when Hun Sen started sending military vehicles up to the area, giving Laos an ultimatum to retreat in six days or face military action.

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

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

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Around 30 Laos soldiers have been stationed in Cambodia's northern Stung Treng province since April despite repeated requests by Phnom Penh for them to leave, according to strongman premier Hun Sen.

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

He made the comments Friday during a speech in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh.

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".

Hun Sen said the Lao soldiers had "invaded Cambodian territory under the pretext of preventing Cambodia from constructing a road" along the border.

Cambodia and Laos share a 540-kilometre (335-mile) land border but large tracts have not been officially demarcated, leading to territorial squabbles. To date, the two neighbors have completed 86 percent of the border demarcation.

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