Laos PM Calls Reports of Border Clash With Cambodia a ‘Rumor’
The Cambodia Daily | 12 May 2017
The visiting premier of Laos this week sought to downplay reports of a tense standoff between Laotian and Cambodian troops in February over construction projects inside a disputed patch of the border, according to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Facebook page.
Mr. Hun Sen’s Laotian counterpart, Thongloun Sisoulith, is in Phnom Penh for the World Economic Forum on Asean and met with the prime minister at his office on Wednesday, said a post to Mr. Hun Sen’s Facebook page on the same day.
“Mr. Thongloun Sisoulith claimed that the cooperation between the two countries, Cambodia and Laos, is like that of brothers,” the post said. “Both leaders have agreed to achieve it. If some of the agreement is not carried out, both sides will inspect it.”
Mr. Sisoulith said that prior reports of a clash between Cambodian and Laotian troops were “only a rumor,” it added.
The post did not elaborate on the point or offer Mr. Hun Sen’s reactions to the claim.
In February, Cambodian authorities in Stung Treng province, which borders Laos, said hundreds of Laotian soldiers had poured into Cambodia and started building trenches to block the construction of a disputed road, prompting Cambodia to dispatch its own reinforcements.
Cambodian authorities also accused Laos of building a military outpost in the disputed area, but they did not report any fighting.
Provincial spokesman Men Kung said Laotian troops were no longer blocking the road’s path and that construction had resumed late last month.
“After Khmer New Year, Cambodian engineers started to build the road. Now it is more than 2 km long,” he said.
Mr. Kung said tensions had eased since February. “It’s true. There are no problems with Laos,” he said.
Royal Cambodian Armed Forces Brigadier General Svay Nhorn, Stung Treng provincial military commander, agreed that the situation along the disputed frontier had returned to “normal.” But he said Laotian soldiers had told their Cambodian counterparts that they wanted to have more bilateral meetings in hopes of advancing their plans to continue building their outpost.
“Laos still wants to build it, but there is no agreement,” he said.
Var Kimhong, Cambodia’s minister in charge of border affairs, could not be reached for comment.