U.S. Senior Official’s Visit Highlights Lao-U.S. Cooperation on Strengthening Rule of Law

Ambassador Alexander A. Arvizu, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), visited the Lao PDR from May 23-26 in order to participate in the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crime (SOMTC) and related bilateral meetings in Vientiane.  Speaking with a wide range of senior Lao government officials, Ambassador Arvizu outlined several key areas where the U.S. and Laos can strengthen law enforcement cooperation, including support for activities focused on rule of law, anti-corruption, border security, counternarcotics, and countering wildlife trafficking.

While in Vientiane, Deputy Assistant Secretary Arvizu met Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry H.E. Mr. Thongphath Vongmany to discuss how wildlife trafficking strengthens illicit trade routes and promotes corruption, and encouraged continued collaboration between the Wildlife Working Group co-chaired by the U.S. and E.U. embassies. He also met with the Deputy Minister of Justice H.E. Mr. Bounsavath Boupha to discuss U.S. support for the Legal Sector Master Plan, which is the major project for justice sector reform and strengthening within the Lao PDR.

In addition, Deputy Assistant Secretary Arvizu spoke with Vice President of the State Inspection and Anti-Corruption Authority (SIAA) H.E. Vilayvanh Bouddakham about Laos’ efforts to combat corruption as well as U.S.-supported training on anti-corruption and fraud investigations.  He met with Brigadier General Sisavath Keomalavong, Head of Cabinet Office, Ministry of Public Security, to discuss collaboration to combat transnational crime, including counternarcotics and trafficking in persons, as well as training for financial investigations.

Ambassador Arvizu also met H.E. Vathana Dalaloy, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Lao PDR, to discuss anti-money laundering efforts in Laos and future opportunities for continuing cooperation.  He concluded his trip to Laos with consultations with other ASEAN delegations to the SOMTC and the SOMTC + U.S. Consultation meeting on May 26.

Deputy Assistant Secretary Arvizu is a career diplomat who previously served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Albania (2010-2015) and twice as Deputy Chief of Mission: in Bangkok, Thailand (2004-2007) and Phnom Penh, Cambodia (2000-2003).