US Secretary of State visits Laos, aiming to boost ties

Updated: 2016-01-25 21:18


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VIENTIANE - Lao Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Thongloun Sisoulith on Monday met with visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry.

The two sides discussed a series of issues covering Laos' unexploded ordinance (UXO) problem, trade, health care and child nutrition, among others.

Kerry arrived in Lao capital Vientiane on Sunday.

The US has expressed desire to utilise Laos' 2016 ASEAN chairmanship to further improve trade and diplomatic ties with the rapidly developing country.

According to statistics from the National Regulatory Authority for UXO/Mine Action Sector in Laos, from 1965 to 1973, the United States dropped some 2 million tons of ordinance on Laos during the Vietnam War, including 2.7 million cluster bombs which are designed to break apart and release a payload of smaller bombs. As many as 30 percent of these bombs did not explode.

Before 2008, an average of 300 people had been killed and countless more injured from accidents related to UXO in Laos each year. At present, 41 out of 46 poor districts in Laos still suffer UXO contamination.

Kerry's visit to Laos follows that of his predecessor, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in July 2012.