Lao soldiers occupying an area south of the Sekong River claimed by both Laos and Cambodia have pulled back from the disputed zone following a meeting Saturday in which the prime ministers of both countries promised to work to reduce tensions, Cambodian media and other sources said.
The Aug. 12 meeting between Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen and Lao prime minister Thongloun Sisolith came after Hun Sen on Friday threatened military action against the neighboring country if its troops were not withdrawn by Aug. 17.
The contested area between Cambodia’s Stung Treng province and Attapeu province in Laos is part of a small stretch of border still not clearly marked, and tensions flared earlier this year after Lao troops crossed the river to block Cambodian construction of a road through the area.
Laos agreed to withdraw the dozens of troops remaining after Hun Sen pledged to stop construction of the road, Lao prime minister Thongloun Sisolith said in a press conference following their meeting in the Lao capital Vientiane on Saturday.
“Samdech [honorific] Hun Sen and I have agreed that the Lao side will pull back all troops remaining in the area following his promise to stop building the road through the [conflict zone], and I have ordered the relevant officials to withdraw by no later than tomorrow morning,” Thongloun said.
“Secondly, Prime Minister Hun Sen has ordered the withdrawal of all [Cambodian] troops being deployed to that area so that the situation can be returned to normal, and so that the people of both our countries can be assured that unwanted incidents will not occur,” he said.
Both Laos and Cambodia will now move forward to resolve outstanding border issues “as soon as possible,” Thongloun said.
Troops from both sides have now pulled back from the Huay Thanau area of Phouvong district in Attapeu province in Laos, and from Ratanakiri province in Cambodia, a senior military and public security official in Laos’s Champassak province told RFA’s Lao Service on Monday.
“[We] coordinated yesterday evening,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
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Reported by Thai Tha and Savi Khorn for RFA’s Khmer Service and by Ounkeo Souksavanh and Bounchanh Mouangkham for RFA’s Lao Service. Translated by Sovannarith Keo and Ounkeo Souksavanh. Written in English by Richard Finney.
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