Laos says it will withdraw troops as Cambodia's 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

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

Hun Sen said that on Friday he ordered Cambodian troops to be sent to the border area in northern Stung Treng province, and after the fruitful talks with Sisoulith, he chose to order all troops to return to their barracks.

Hun Sen threatened to expel the soldiers by force if they don't leave the area by August 17.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who threatened Friday to use force over a border crisis with neighboring Laos, announced Saturday that the situation had been peacefully resolved after he made a lightning trip for face-to-face talks with his Laotian counterpart.

This followed claims that Laos had sent troops into Cambodia.

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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. "Secondly, Prime Minister Hun Sen has ordered the troops that have been built up in that area to make the situation in that area return to normalcy, restoring the belief of the people of our two countries that no undesirable incidents will happen", he added. He urged Cambodians not to be alarmed if they see military forces on the move.

Laos wants Cambodia to stop clearing land along the border for road-building and allow checks by inspection panels from both countries.

"I've ordered the authorities involved to withdraw troops from that area by tomorrow morning", Thongloun said.

Thongloun said he was sorry he had not responded to an Aug 2 letter from Hun Sen seeking withdrawal of the troops.

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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.

Hun Sen's political opponents accuse him of failing to stand up to what they call encroachment by Vietnam, Cambodia's traditional enemy.

According to Hun Sen the Laos soldiers crossed into Cambodia to halt the construction of a road.

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 previous year has been sentenced to 18 months in jail.

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