Sat, Aug 12, 2017 - Page 6 News List

Cambodia accuses Laos of incursion

Reuters, PHNOM PENH

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday accused Laos of sending troops into Cambodian territory in April and set a deadline of Thursday next week for their departure, adding that he was mobilizing soldiers to the border area.

Hun Sen said at a ceremony in the Cambodian capital he had been in touch with the government in Laos about 30 soldiers from Laos who had crossed into the area, where some remained during daytime.

“I can no longer keep patience,” Hun Sen said. “It’s not right that we fight each other, but if they don’t withdraw, we must do it... We don’t declare war, we just ask to get our own land back.”

Laos and Cambodia have a territorial and border demarcation dispute, an official at the Laos embassy in Phnom Penh told reporters.

“We have not yet agreed the border line with each other,” said the official, who declined to be identified. “A border commission has not come to check it.”

Cambodia should stop clearing the area for road-building activities to allow checks by inspection panels from both countries, he said.

China could help resolve the dispute, said an official from a Cambodian think tank, adding that he feared the incident might provoke clashes.

Cambodia and Laos are key allies of China, backing its “One Belt, One Road” drive to build regional infrastructure, but it was not immediately clear how their dispute would affect the plans.

“China has influence on the two countries, and if they want to solve it, only China can help solve it,” said Ou Virak of the Future Forum think tank. “This issue might lead to clashes, like when it happened with Thailand.”

In a long-running dispute, land around an ancient temple on the Thai-Cambodian border was the scene of sporadic gun and artillery battles, with 28 killed in the worst incident in 2011.

In November 2013, a UN court in The Hague ruled that part of the land around the Preah Vihear Temple belonged to Cambodia and ordered Thailand to withdraw its forces from the area.

Last month, Thailand approved construction of the first phase of a US$5.5 billion railway to link its industrial eastern seaboard with southern China through landlocked Laos.

In another land dispute, Cambodia accuses Vietnam of encroaching on its territory.

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