Dispute with Laos reignites over checkpoint

Source: Khmer Times

Cambodia says the work on the well violates agreements. Supplied

Lao workers are continuing to dig a well near the Trapeang Kriel-Nong Nok Khian international border checkpoint, despite a dispute on whether it lies on Cambodian land.
Men Kong, a spokesman for the Stung Treng provincial hall, said the main border crossing in the area remains open, but a secondary checkpoint in O’Svay zone has been closed by Laos.
Last Friday, the provincial deputy governor led a delegation to discuss the issue with Lao officials. The digging was temporarily suspended after the talks, but has now resumed.
“The digging violates our agreement to ban construction activities because the site has not been agreed,” Mr. Kong said.
In January, the chairman of Cambodia’s border committee met with Lao officials to discuss border demarcation.
The two sides discussed problems with disputes along the Ropov, Sa Laphav and Sekong rivers, border posts 002 and 003, the O’Svay, O Ta Ngav and Trapeang Kriel zones, the Trapaing Kriel border gate and National Road 7.
“The previous agreement affected the villages of Cambodian citizens living in O’Svay zone, so we asked them to move the border line further into Laos,” Var Kim Hong said at the time.
He added Cambodia hadn’t agreed on the location of border posts installed from O’Svay to Trapeang Kriel, saying new posts must be erected in mutually agreed areas.
Mr. Kong confirmed Laos had closed the border gate in O’Svay zone and deployed forces to the area.
“We don’t know why they decided to close the O’Svay secondary border checkpoint and deploy more armed forces,” he said.
Mr. Kong said the provincial hall had sent a report about the problems to the Interior Ministry, to request assistance.
In February, almost 400 soldiers from Laos crossed the border and ordered a group of Cambodian military engineers to stop work on a road they claimed cut into Lao territory. After the request, Cambodia temporarily suspended its construction of the Strategic Belt Road.
The border between Cambodia and Laos is 533 kilometers. Until now, 121 of 145 border posts have been installed, meaning 83 percent of border demarcation is complete.

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