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US Secretary of State Lays Groundwork for Future Cooperation

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US Secretary of State John Kerry has highlighted key areas of cooperation with Laos ahead of President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Laos in September.

Mr. Kerry was in Vientiane from July 25-26 to attend a number of meetings including the ASEAN-US Ministerial Meeting, East Asia Summit (EAS) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and the ASEAN Regional Forum.

Speaking at a press conference in Vientiane yesterday, the Secretary of State said the US was keen to work with Laos in a number of fields to strengthen the bilateral relationship.

“Some of the areas we are looking at are education, healthcare, development, infrastructure, sustainability in climate and energy,” he said.

“Those are the things we think we could work together on. The United States could help show how some of the things we have learned through the years could be applied so that Laos doesn’t make the same mistakes as we might have in some ways. We can share thoughts about how to do things – agriculture for instance.”

Mr. Kerry also briefed the media about the outcome of the bilateral talks held between himself and his Lao counterpart Mr. Saleumxay Kommasith on Monday.

“President Obama will be the first US president to visit Laos. We have a great deal of work to do now to think about the things that we can do to make that visit really productive,” he said.

During their talks, Mr. Kerry and his Lao counterpart also talked about regional security issues and the need to be very alert and proactive with respect to preventing violent extremism from being able to move into the region.

The breadth of the above shows how substantive the discussions have been and how important the US president’s visit to Laos will be.

“What we hope is that it will be an extremely productive and historic visit by the US president. That’s what I and Laos agreed on,” Mr. Kerry said.

Mr. Kerry stressed the significance of working together to identify the needs and areas of cooperation.

“I think both countries can learn from each other all the time. It’s important, however, for us to work together and find ways to cooperate,” he said.

“Obviously Laos is in a very different place from the United States in terms of the development of an economy. We are trying to help Laos, not to do what we think we want it to do, but with what Laos wants to do.”

The relationship between Laos and the US has been strengthening in recent years, especially after the two nations resumed normal trade relations in 2004.

Source: Vientiane Times

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