Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodia, Laos draw back troops in bid to avoid escalation at border

Cambodia, Laos draw back troops in bid to avoid escalation at border

Cambodian soldiers inspect the Cambodia-Laos border during a meeting over recent tensions between the two sides in Stung Treng province yesterday. Photo supplied
Cambodian soldiers inspect the Cambodia-Laos border during a meeting over recent tensions between the two sides in Stung Treng province yesterday. Photo supplied

Cambodia, Laos draw back troops in bid to avoid escalation at border

After a two-hour meeting, Cambodian and Lao provincial military and border officials yesterday reached an agreement to draw back forces from two undemarcated zones where the building of outposts had recently sparked military stand-offs, according to a general in the area.

Svay Nhan, the Stung Treng provincial military commander, said the “understanding” was reached yesterday after a joint delegation from the countries inspected the sites in Thala Barivat district’s O’Svay commune and nearby Samaki commune in Stung Treng district.

The sites, known as Dong Kralor Chas in Samaki and Deum Lvea in O’Svay, are among three undemarcated “white zones” that have sparked border frictions recently, with Laos’s attempts to upgrade a military outpost in the former and plans by Cambodian police to do the same in the latter provoking stand-offs between forces.

A third similar site in Stung Treng’s Siem Pang district – where in February some 400 Lao soldiers crossed into Cambodia to halt construction of a road they said was in an undemarcated zone – was not included in yesterday’s meeting.

“The Cambodian side requested the Lao side to keep the situation along the border as it was before March 25,” Nhan said, referring to the recent flare-up, which led to Laos temporarily shutting a border crossing earlier this week.

“Secondly, we discussed requests to move forces back in Dong Kralor Chas and Deum Lvea, requests to suspend the construction of posts in [both areas] and to allow the two provincial governors to meet with each other after Khmer New Year.”

Nhan specified that Laos wanted Cambodian border police in Deum Lvea to withdraw 30 metres while Cambodia sought assurances the border would stay open for local traders. He said forces from both sides would draw back as of yesterday afternoon.

Reached later in the day, a Cambodian border police officer, who requested anonymity, said at Deum Lvea, forces from both sides, including about 10 Lao soldiers and the same amount of Cambodian border police, had drawn back about 50 metres. But at Dong Kralor Chas, Lao troops remained at the contentious outpost, he said.

Laos and Cambodia have demarcated just over 80 percent of their 535-kilometre border since the early 2000s.

Analysts questioned why national leaders had continued to let the dispute fester.

“The tit-for-tat is snowballing quickly and could spark a violent confrontation, especially given that Cambodia’s parliamentary opposition might publicly ask why the government is not standing up to Laos,” said regional expert Paul Chambers, of Thailand’s Naresuan University.

Carl Thayer, an emeritus professor at the Australian Defence Force Academy, said he found it “absurd” that the dispute hasn’t been snuffed out by decisive diplomacy by both countries, calling the conflict “unbecoming of ASEAN members”.

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor lifetime pass, special Siem Reap travel offers planned

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to introduce a convenient, single lifetime pass for foreign travellers to visit Angkor Archaeological Park and potentially other areas. The move is designed to stimulate tourism to the culturally rich province of Siem Reap as the start of the “Visit

  • Bosba: The first Khmer woman composer from UK’s Cambridge

    Bosba Panh is just 25 years old, but she’s already accomplished some impressive milestones for herself and the Kingdom. On July 24, she graduated with a Master’s degree from the University of Cambridge as the first Khmer woman composer and Khmer music graduate ever at

  • Pailin longan winery tries to break through to the big time

    Longan aren’t quite as glamorous as some fruits. They don’t have the star-power of mangos or generate the excitement of a pricey seasonal niche fruit like the pungent durian. Unlike bananas or oranges, which are known and loved everywhere, longan remains a decidedly

  • Debt restructuring over, time to tackle rising NPL ratio

    The Cambodian banking system has just completed a 26-month debt restructuring exercise where scores of loan accounts were revised, classified and provisioned as the rate of non-performing loans inched up, sparking a slight credit risk unease Implemented in April 2020, the Covid-19 debt restructuring measures came

  • Recap of this year’s ASEAN FM meet and look ahead

    This year’s edition of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) hosted by Cambodia comes against the backdrop of heightened global tensions and increasing rivalry between major powers that have been compared to the animosity of the Cold War era. The following is The Post’

  • Koh Slaket studio resort brings culture with style

    Davitra (Cambodia) Co Ltd’s multi-million-dollar 13ha Koh Slaket studio-cum-resort just east of the capital was inaugurated in the first phase on August 6, providing national and international tourists with a new travel option and job opportunities for locals. The man-made cultural and scenic lakefront getaway