The United States and Lao PDR completed their sixth Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue on June 19 in Washington, D.C. The Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue is held each year, rotating between Vientiane and Washington, D.C. The Lao delegation met with U.S. officials from the Department of State, Department of Defense, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, USAID, and U.S. Peace Corps.
During the day-long discussions, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel and Lao delegation head Vice Foreign Minister Sounthone Xayachack agreed that the U.S.-Lao relationship is stronger and more dynamic than ever. Both officials noted that this year marks the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries and discussed plans to recognize the anniversary throughout the year, including at the upcoming U.S. Embassy celebrations of U.S. Independence Day.
A highlight of the Dialogue was when Assistant Secretary Russel announced that the United States will further increase its funding to the UXO sector in Laos, from $13 million to $15 million. Assistant Secretary Russel noted the progress that Laos has made in its commitment to survey, locate, and clear UXO, and said the United States is eager to help Laos speed up the process to avoid further casualties and to assist Laos’ economic growth.
During their Dialogue, U.S. and Lao officials reviewed developments in Asia, and Assistant Secretary Russel emphasized the United States’ commitment to constructive and beneficial relations with Laos and with ASEAN. The Lao delegation discussed plans for Laos’ chairmanship of ASEAN in 2016. The U.S. and Lao delegations also reviewed mechanisms to facilitate and encourage bilateral trade and investment. They agreed on goals for a comprehensive U.S. development assistance program in Laos, valued at over $40 million in 2014 and focused on nutrition, health, education, trade, environment, justice, and anti-narcotics.”