Laotian troops have retreated from a disputed border region following an ultimatum from Cambodian Prime Minister, Hun Sen.
Tensions were building in the area south of the Sekong River, that is claimed by both Cambodia and Laos. According to Radio Free Asia however, both countries have now agreed to de escalate the situation. The Prime Ministers of the two states have promised to work to reduce tensions, following a meeting on Saturday.
In February, hundreds of troops from Laos entered the demarcated ‘white zone’ in Northeastern Stung Treng Province. The mobilisation of troops was to prevent Cambodian military engineers from constructing a road through the disputed area.
The diplomatic dispute escalated in April, when Hun Sen claims that up to 30 troops from Laos crossed the border into northern Stung Treng province. The Cambodian military accused their Laotian counterparts of using these troops to build a military outpost. This construction project was in a disputed area that the two countries had previously agreed to keep clear of military stations.
The height of the diplomatic tensions were seen on Friday, when Hun Sen warned Laos of a military response if troops were not withdrawn by the 17th of August.
Following this ultimatum, military commanders were ordered to deploy troops, armed with multiple rocket launchers to the contested border area.
The Cambodian PM then made a very public point of announcing that:
“I have to fly to Laos right away to meet with the Laotian prime minister to ask him a straight question, ‘Will you pull out or not?’”
Following Saturday’s meeting, the Laotian PM, Thongloun Sisoulith ordered the removal of troops from the disputed areas.