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Laos border row ‘not discussed’

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Laos President Bounnhang Vorachith motorcade passes the King's monument yesterday in Phnom Penh. Eliah Lillis

Laos border row ‘not discussed’

On a two-day state visit, Laos President Bounnhang Vorachith yesterday met with Prime Minister Hun Sen, though an official claimed the pair did not discuss a small-scale military standoff on Cambodia’s border with its northern neighbour.

Border demarcation was a topic of discussion during the visiting head of state’s meeting with National Assembly President Heng Samrin, per a Facebook post, though few details were revealed.

Following the meeting with the premier in the afternoon, government official Eang Sophalleth said the leaders had discussed improving cross-border links, including electricity, railway, road and water connections.

Troops have massed on both sides of the border in Stung Treng province’s Siem Pang district after Lao soldiers on February 8 stopped Cambodian military engineers building a road they claim was in a still-undemarcated zone.

But in response to questions from reporters, Sophalleth said the standoff and issues surrounding drug trafficking from Laos – a persistent problem – were not raised.

“This was not a meeting to discuss the two countries’ affairs but just a courtesy meeting only,” he said.

According to Samrin’s Facebook page, the pair discussed the demarcation of the northern border, which an official recently said was 80 percent complete, though details were vague. In his post, Samrin called on both sides to work to complete demarcation “as soon as possible”.

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