Laos to withdraw troops as Hun Sen visits

Minister Hun Sen who is also president of the ruling Cambodian People's Party, attends a ceremony to mark the 66th anniversary of the establishment of the party at Koh Pich island in Phnom Penh Cambodia

Cambodia gives ultimatum to Laos over 'border invasion'

Before kicking off his visit to Vientiane on Saturday, Hun Sen said on Friday that about 30 Laos soldiers have "encroached on Cambodian territory" in the areas of O Alay and O Ta Ngav in Stung Treng province bordering Laos' Attapeu province, 380 km north of Cambodian capital Phnom Penh and 570 km southeast of Vientiane, since April and issued a six-day ultimatum to the invading Laos forces to leave Cambodia, or military action will be taken against them.

Cambodia and Laos have generally warm relations as both had fraternal communist governments after 1975.

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.

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successfully negotiated with Laotian Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith to have a small contingent of Laotian troops withdrawn from disputed frontier territory, with Cambodia also to remove its soldiers.

Thongloun said he was sorry he had not responded to an August 2 letter from Hun Sen seeking the troop pull back.

Calls and emails to the Laos Embassy in Phnom Penh were not returned.

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.

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

Laos wants Cambodia to stop clearing land there for road-building and allow checks by inspection panels from both countries, the official said.

A defense ministry spokesman, Chhum Socheat, said the military was prepared for a confrontation and awaited orders, reported Fresh News, an online news service close to the government.

"Our biggest success is that there is no dispute that can't be solved", Hun Sen.

Hun Sen's critics have accused him of using past border crises with Thailand to boost his popularity.

A government critic who allegedly implied senior ruling Cambodian People's Party officials were involved in a cover up of the assassination of prominent political analyst Kem Ley past year has been sentenced to 18 months in jail.

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