US Pushes for Closer Ties with Laos
The United States is keen to strengthen its ties with Laos in areas ranging from politics to economics and socio-cultural affairs, based on mutual respect and benefits.
US President Barack Obama spoke about growing Laos-US relations when he addressed more than 1,000 people at the National Culture Hall in Vientiane last week.
“As we continue to deal with the past, our new partnership is focused on the future. We want to be your partners as you invest in the well-being of your people, and especially your children,” he said.
“We’re joining with Laos to promote nutrition and bring more healthy meals to children in school so they can grow strong, focus in class, and realise their full potential.”
Mr. Obama also said the US wanted to be a partner with Laos in improving education, pledging to bring more American teachers here to help teach English, and more Lao teachers to America to strengthen their English.
With regards to economic cooperation, the US is keen to boost bilateral trade with Laos and generate job opportunities for local people.
“We want to be your partners as Laos forges greater trade and commerce with the world… As Laos pursues economic and labour reforms, we’ll work to encourage more trade and investment between our two countries, and between Laos and the rest of this region,” Mr. Obama said.
Mr. Obama is the first US president to visit Laos. During his historic visit, he announced new US assistance to help Laos achieve its development goals.
This year, USAID will launch a new five-year basic education programme focusing
on early grade reading, according to the US Embassy in Vientiane.
The White House selected Laos as a Challenge Fund country for Let Girls Learn, which works to address the many challenges adolescent girls face to attend and complete school so they can reach their fullest potential.
The US Department of Agriculture committed an additional US$27 million to continue its school meals programme, bringing its total contribution for school meal programmes in Laos to nearly US$100 million over 10 years.
Mr. Obama also announced that the United States has committed US$90 million over the next three years to conduct a comprehensive UXO survey of Laos and for continued clearing operations, and will continue to assist UXO victims in coordination with the Centre for Medical Rehabilitation under the Lao Ministry of Health.
These efforts will ensure that UXO victims have better access to quality rehabilitation services, including orthotics and prosthetics to improve their lives.
America is developing its engagement with the Asia Pacific as the region becomes of greater significance in the global arena.
The US is also working to deepen its cooperative relations with Asean to promote peace, security and development in the region.
“We’ve increased the trade and investment that creates jobs and opportunities on both sides of the Pacific. Since I took office, we’ve boosted US exports to the Asia Pacific by 50 percent,” Mr. Obama said.
“Our young leaders’ initiative is helping more than 100,000 young men and women across this region to start new companies and ventures. So we’re connecting entrepreneurs and investors and businesses in America and in ASEAN with each other.”
Source: Vientiane Times