News / Asia

Clinton Makes Historic Visit to Laos

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, and Laotian Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong meet at the Prime Minister's Office in Vientiane, July 11, 2012.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, left, and Laotian Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong meet at the Prime Minister's Office in Vientiane, July 11, 2012.
VIENTIANE — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stopped in Laos Wednesday for talks ahead of this week's meeting of South East Asian foreign ministers. U.S. and Lao officials discussed environmental protections for the Lower Mekong Delta and lingering issues of unexploded ordinance from the Vietnam War.

In talks with Foreign Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, Secretary Clinton discussed Laos' coming entry to the World Trade Organization and continuing U.S. assistance to safely dispose of unexploded ordinance from the Vietnam War.

"We traced the arc of our relationship from addressing the tragic legacies of the past to finding new ways to partner for the future," Clinton said.

Addressing legacies, Secretary Clinton visited a partially U.S.-funded, non-profit orthotic and prosthetic cooperative that helps those injured by leftover cluster munitions dropped during more than 580,000 U.S. bombing runs between 1964 and 1975.

Secretary Clinton says the United States has helped clear more than one million bombs from 23,000 hectares of Lao land that can now be used for farming or development.

"I hope others in the international community will join us in our efforts to bring this legacy of the Vietnam War era to a safe end and give the people, particularly the children of this nation the opportunity to live their lives safe from these unexploded bombs," Clinton said.

During her visit, the two governments agreed to improve efforts to account for military personnel still missing from the Vietnam War. U.S. officials want greater access, having investigated sites relating to fewer than 600 missing Americans since the mid-1980s.

Secretary Clinton expressed appreciation for the government's re-integration of ethnic Hmong refugees who returned from Thailand in 2009. In a written statement, the Lao government thanked the United States for providing humanitarian assistance for those families as well as for people in communities surrounding Hmong villages.

The secretary and foreign minister discussed environmental protection and investment in the Lower Mekong River Delta, with the Lao government again promising to suspend work on the controversial Xaya Buri dam in response to concerns by its neighbors.

Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong told Secretary Clinton that his government will invite international experts to study the dam's environmental and social impact before deciding whether to proceed. A senior State Department official says that is an important development for all the people of the Lower Mekong, and Washington welcomes this "responsible decision."

The visit reflects broadening bilateral cooperation between the countries after decades of relative isolation. Foreign Minister Thongloun's trip to the United States in 2010 was the first by a senior Lao official in 35 years. This visit to Laos is the first by a U.S. secretary of state since John Foster Dulles in 1955.

You May Like

Photogallery Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

UN Warns Air Pollution in Asia Pacific Has Rising Cost

Globally some seven million people a year die prematurely due to indoor and outdoor pollution with about 70 per cent of those deaths in region

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs