Hun Sen, Laos PM to Request Border Maps to Solve Dispute

Prime Minister Hun Sen met his Lao counterpart at Phnom Penh’s “Peace Palace” on Friday in an effort to further de-escalate tensions that flared up last month over Laotian soldiers occupying Cambodian land, with both agreeing to write a joint letter to the French president requesting border maps.

The diplomatic dispute erupted last month when a few dozen Laotian soldiers occupied a patch of land about 7 km from Stung Treng province’s Trapaing Kriel International Checkpoint.

Mr. Hun Sen delivered warnings to Laotian troops, which were ordered to retreat after he flew to Vientiane to meet Laos Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith. Speaking at a news conference after a closed-door meeting on Friday, Mr. Hun Sen said any tension had soothed and that the pair shared “a really close relationship.”

“Without a personal relationship between me and His Excellency Thongloun, and between the two families of ours, this issue might be difficult to deal with,” Mr. Hun Sen said, adding that they had known each other for 30 years. During the meeting, the two prime ministers agreed to send a letter to French President Emmanuel Macron to request a map illustrating historic border demarcations. Both countries were colonized by the French and achieved independence in 1953.

“The two prime ministers, His Excellency Thongloun and I, will write a letter to the president of France requesting help in transferring the French map…and ask France to provide any other relevant documents on the Cambodia and Laos border,” Mr. Hun Sen said. They also agreed to a meeting between the foreign affairs ministers in Phnom Penh to discuss a solution and create a border committee to survey the sites. Mr. Sisoulith reiterated the two countries’ dedication to resolving the dispute.

“I believe that the resolution of the border issues between the two countries is based on friendship and fairness with no one losing and no one gaining,” he said.

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