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Cambodia mobilizes troops on Laos border in blow to Silk Road

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks in a press conference during the World Economic Forum on ASEAN in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, May 11, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday accused neighboring Laos of sending troops into Cambodian territory in April and set an August 17 deadline for their departure, warning that he was mobilizing soldiers to the border area.
Cambodia and Communist Laos are key allies of giant northern neighbor China, backing its "One Belt, One Road" drive to build regional infrastructure, but it was not immediately clear how their dispute would affect the plans.
Hun Sen said at a ceremony in the Cambodian capital he had been in touch with the government in Laos about 30 soldiers from Laos who had crossed into the area, where some remained during daytime.
"I can no longer keep patience," Hun Sen added. "It's not right that we fight each other, but if they don't withdraw, we must do it... We don't declare war, we just ask to get our own land back."
Laos and Cambodia have a territorial and border demarcation dispute, an official at the Laos Embassy in Phnom Penh told Reuters.
Cambodian soldiers inspect the Cambodia-Laos border during a meeting over recent tensions between the two sides, in Stung Treng Province, April 5, 2017.
"We have not yet agreed the border line with each other," said the official, who declined to be identified. "A border commission has not come to check it."
Cambodia should stop clearing the area for road-building activities, in order to allow checks by inspection panels from both countries, he said.
China could help resolve the dispute, said an official from a Cambodian think-tank.
"China has influence on the two countries, and if they want to solve it, only China can help solve it," said Ou Virak of the Future Forum think-tank.
"This issue might lead to clashes, like when it happened with Thailand," he told Reuters.

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