Laotian Soldiers Are Digging Trenches in Cambodia, Official Says

Laotian soldiers have begun digging trenches in Cambodia to ensure that construction of a disputed road cannot restart, while authorities from both countries have continued to lock horns over the dispute, an official said on Monday.

Construction on a 257-km road in Stung Treng province—running from Stung Treng City to Siem Pang district—has been halted in recent weeks after more than 400 armed Laotian soldiers allegedly poured into Cambodian territory to prevent its advancement. In response, Cambodian forces were sent to the border to counter the deployment.

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Cambodian and Laotian soldiers speak near the border, in a still image from a video posted to the Fresh News website.

The situation has remained unchanged since it was first reported by authorities last week. Despite government efforts to downplay the dispute, Duong Pov, deputy Stung Treng provincial governor, said on Monday that negotiations had yet to yield a resolution.

“The meetings have not yet resulted in a good resolution because the Laotian side still does not agree with us,” he said after the most recent meeting held on Monday.

“We still have a stance, that is to continue to construct that road because it is the government’s plan, but the Laotian side still does not agree with us,” he added.

As negotiations have stalled, Mr. Pov said Laotian soldiers had “begun digging trenches to block us from continuing the construction of the road.”

“They suspect it could affect their country’s border line,” he said.

Mr. Pov remained optimistic, however, that the dispute could be resolved.

“We are still trying to be patient in order to solve it peacefully, because we don’t want to have a big conflict with each other,” he said, adding that Laotian officials said they would call upon national level officials to come and inspect the scene.

A report from Cambodian officials would be submitted to provincial governor Mom Saroeun today, before being sent to the upper levels of government, Mr. Pov said.

The provincial governor declined to comment, while provincial spokesman Men Kong said “he did not dare to comment” prior to receiving a report outlining the current situation.

Defense Ministry officials could not be reached.

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