VIENTIANE, Laos (July 11, 2012) — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton paid an official visit Wednesday to Lao PDR, the first Secretary of State to visit since John Foster Dulles in 1955.
During her historic visit, the Secretary called on Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong and Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister Dr. Thongloun Sisoulith.
Secretary Clinton and DPM/FM Dr. Thongloun had substantive discussions on the broadening bilateral cooperation between the United States and the Lao PDR. They discussed the forthcoming entry of Laos into the World Trade Organization and ongoing bilateral cooperation to help resolve the challenges associated with unexploded ordnance (UXO) in Laos.
They also agreed to improve and further facilitate the accounting operations for American personnel still missing from the Indochina War era, partnership in the Lower Mekong Initiative, environmental protection, and the significant role of civil society in Laos. The Secretary also expressed appreciation for the important efforts of the Lao Government to re-integrate Hmong families who returned from Thailand in 2009.
Likewise, Lao officials expressed gratitude for humanitarian assistance from the United States for these Hmong families, as well as for persons in the communities surrounding the Hmong villages.
The Secretary reaffirmed the United States’ support for ASEAN centrality in the evolving ASEAN-led regional architecture in the Asia-Pacific. The two sides noted the importance of ASEAN unity on pressing regional issues and underscored their continued support for increased cooperation in regional frameworks.
The Secretary congratulated Laos on its efforts to meet UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 and to graduate from Least Developed Country (LDC) status by 2020. DPM/FM Dr. Thongloun reaffirmed the significant role the United States plays in promoting peace, stability, and prosperity in the region and its multilateral institutions and in contributing to disaster relief efforts.
Secretary Clinton and DPM/FM Dr. Thongloun welcomed positive and constructive trends in the relationship and looked forward to continuing regular consultations on a broad range of issues to strengthen bilateral ties.
In addition to her official meetings, the Secretary visited Ho Phra Keo Museum to underscore U.S. respect for, and commitment to assist, Laos in preserving its rich culture and history. The Secretary’s visit to the Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise (COPE), a local non-profit organization that provides rehabilitation services to victims of unexploded ordnance (UXO) and others with disabilities, demonstrated ongoing U.S. commitment to address conflict legacy issues.