Cambodia PM gives ultimatum to Laos over 'border invasion'

PHNOM PENH, Aug 12, 2017 (AFP) - Cambodia's prime minister on Friday issued a six-day ultimatum to Laos to pull back its troops who have allegedly trespassed into a border area or face a military response.

In April around 30 Laos soldiers crossed into Cambodian territory in northern Stung Treng province despite repeated requests by Phnom Penh for them to leave the zone, according to strongman premier Hun Sen.

"I appeal to Laos Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith to withdraw troops from Cambodian territory without any conditions," Hun Sen said during a ceremony in capital Phnom Penh.

Military commanders have been ordered to deploy troops along with multiple rocket launchers to the border area, he said, giving Laos the "ultimatum" of pulling out by August 17.

"We are friends, but a friend cannot step on (our) head," he said, adding that he was running out of patience with "the invasion" by Laos troops.

"We are not waging war, but we just want our land back," he said.

Cambodia and Laos share a 540 kilometre (335 miles) land border but large tracts have not been officially demarcated, leading to territorial squabbles.

The Laos border is hard to police, with increasing amounts of drugs -- mainly methamphetamine and heroin -- being moved from Laos into Cambodia.

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