August 15, 2017

What’s behind Cambodia-Laos’ border flare-up?

By David Hutt, Asia Times, August 14, 2017

A boundary stone marking a border area between Laos and Cambodia. 
Photo: iStock/Getty Images.

After much sound, fury and troop deployments, it all ended with an embrace.

Lao and Cambodian troops have since February confronted one another at key crossings and military outposts that dot the two Southeast Asian nations’ 224-kilometer border in what was viewed as a mild escalation of a long-time dispute.

On Friday, however, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen ratcheted up tensions when he issued a stern warning to the Lao government. “We don’t declare war,” he said, “we just ask to get our land back and we won’t take land from anyone.”

Hun Sen told the Lao government that it had six days to leave Cambodian claimed territory and if not “then we will start to take action.” Hun Sen later flew directly to the Lao capital, Vientiane, leaving behind armored vehicles to parade around the center of Phnom Penh in a flex of nationalism.

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