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Vientiane accuses Thailand of trying to annex part of Laos

By
RICHARD ROTH-HAAS

BANGKOK, Thailand -- Laos Saturday accused its more densely populated neighbor Thailand of using military force to try to annex part of sparsely settled Laos.

The accusations were broadcast on state-run Radio Laos in Vientiane.

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'Thai military forces are launching attacks to annex Lao territory,' Radio Laos said.

'Lao people are fed up with war, but it does not mean that they will kneel down and surrender to any foreign aggressor,' the radio said.

'Lao territory is quite large for a population of over 3 million, and Lao people have never thought of taking territory of any other country,' it said denying it had attacked Thailand.

Thailand's prime minister, foreign minister, defense minister, army commander, army chief-of-staff and the head of its national security council returned to Bangkok after visiting the 27-square-mile area 270 miles north of Bangkok where months of fighting has killed at least 33 Thais and 80 Lao.

About 280 Thai soldiers have been wounded in the battle for the virgin tropical jungle lush with valuable timber.

Each country demands that the other withdraw its troops from the area before negotiations can begin -- and both refuse to abandon what they consider their country's territory.

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Disagreement over ownership of the area arises from several sources - an 80-year-old vaguely worded border agreement and two versions of the same U.S. Army map.

Each version of the American map gives the disputed area to a different country.

Radio Laos praised Lao 'militant solidarity' with Vietnam, which has 30,000 troops stationed in Laos. Laos has about 1,000 troops in Cambodia bolstering the Hanoi-installed government in Phnom Penh.

The Thai newspaper Matichon Saturday quoted a Thai military report saying 2,500 Vietnamese troops in Laos have been moved near the disputed border and another six divisions of troops have been brought from Vietnam and stationed in Laos.

Matichon quoted the report as saying 300 Soviet specialists were giving Lao pilots tactical training so their Soviet MIG-21 S could bring down Thailand's American-made F-5 fighter-bombers.

Thailand, a close ally of the United States, has used American-made F-5 fighter-bombers, helicopter gunships, mortars and more than 2,000 artillery rounds in an attempt to dislodge Lao troops entrenched on high points in the disputed area.

Laos has a population of 3.7 million people who live in a country of 91,429 square miles -- about twice the size of Pennsylania.

Thailand has 55 million people who live on 198,455 square miles - about three fourths the size of Texas.

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