In recognition of the deepening partnership between the United States and the Lao PDR, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Daniel R. Russel visited the Lao PDR on December 17 and 18. Addressing the Institute of Foreign Affairs, Assistant Secretary Russel told a capacity audience that, “We’re writing a new chapter in relations between Laos and the U.S., between our governments and our people. This partnership on issues vital to both of our nations spans inclusive economic growth, health, education, and environmental protection.” He pointed to next year’s visits of President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry as opportunities to push the relationship to a higher level. “We’ve revitalized our relations with the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, culminating in President Obama’s visit, less than a year away.”
Assistant Secretary Russel also met with Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Dr. Thongloun Sisoulith to discuss the growing bilateral relationship and U.S. support for the Lao PDR in preparation for the ASEAN meetings in 2016, including the ASEAN Summit and the East Asia Summit. In addition, Assistant Secretary Russel met with Minister of Health H.E. Dr. Eksavang Vongvichit to further advance our cooperation and assistance to the Lao health sector. He also met with Vice Foreign Ministers Mr. Alounkeo Kittikoun and Sengphet Houngboungnuang, as well as Chair of Party External Relations Committee, Dr. Sounthone Xayachak.
To conclude his visit, Assistant Secretary of State Russel participated in a traditional baci ceremony in honor of the recent graduates of the U.S. government’s English Access Program, which provides two years of free English classes and life skills training to disadvantaged youth in Vientiane. Through his interactions with the students, he observed firsthand the impact of English education programs in the Lao PDR.
Daniel Russel is the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. Prior to his appointment as Assistant Secretary in 2013, Mr. Russel served at the White House as Special Assistant to the President and National Security Council Senior Director for Asian Affairs. During his tenure there, he helped formulate President Obama’s strategic rebalance to the Asia Pacific Region, including efforts to strengthen alliances, deepen U.S. engagement with multilateral organizations, and expand cooperation with emerging powers in the region.
The Lao PDR and the United States have recently increased the number of high-level visits between their respective leaders, and Assistant Secretary Russel’s visit builds on this trend.
Lao version (PDF 105KB)