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US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) listens to Laotian Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong (R) at their meeting at the prime minister's office in Vientiane on July 11, 2012. Clinton became the first US secretary of state to visit Laos for 57 years, on a trip focused on the damaging legacy of the Vietnam War and a controversial dam project. AFP PHOTO / POOL / Brendan SMIALOWSKI              (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages)

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) listens to Laotian Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong (R) at their meeting at the prime minister’s office in Vientiane on July 11, 2012. Clinton became the first US secretary of state to visit Laos for 57 years, on a trip focused on the damaging legacy of the Vietnam War and a controversial dam project. AFP PHOTO / POOL / Brendan SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages)

 

Disappearance of Lao Civil Society Leader Sombath Somphone

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
January 16, 2013

We are deeply concerned about the well-being of Lao civil society leader Sombath Somphone, who disappeared one month ago. Reports indicate that Mr. Sombath went missing on December 15, 2012 after being stopped at a police checkpoint in the capital city of Vientiane. We call upon the Lao government to pursue a transparent investigation of this incident and to do everything in its power to bring about an immediate and safe return home to his family.

Since receiving his education in the United States, Mr. Sombath has worked tirelessly to promote sustainable development in Laos and he inspired a new generation of young leaders. He founded the Participatory Development Training Center, which trains Lao youth and local government leaders in community development and poverty reduction. His disappearance has generated a tremendous amount of concern from his family, friends and colleagues around the world. We urge his immediate return home and send our thoughts and prayers to his family and loved ones.

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Shortly after achieving an historic trilateral agreement among the U.S., Afghanistan, and Pakistan (largely ignored by mass media), the intrepid Hillary Clinton touched down in Laos today. It was the first visit there by a secretary of state in 57 years. By my calculation, that makes John Foster Dulles her nearest top diplomat predecessor. His visit occurred when HRC was seven.

Here are some pics from wheels down Laos to wheels up for her third country of today – Cambodia where she co-chaired an ASEAN summit. We see her with Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong and Laotian Foreign Minister Thongloun Sisoulith at the Government Office in Vientiane, visiting the Cooperative Orthotic Prosthetic Enterprise (COPE) Center which helps victims of Vietnam War-era exploded bombs where a client is obviously thrilled to meet her, and finally on a tour of the Ho Phra Keo Temple also in Vientiane.

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US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to US Embassy staff after touring the Cooperative Orthotic Prosthetic Enterprise Center (COPE), in Vientiane, Laos, Wednesday, July 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Brendon Smialowski, Pool)

Meets with Embassy Staff and Their Families

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
COPE Center
Vientiane, Laos
July 11, 2012

Well, it is wonderful to be here and especially to be the first Secretary of State since 1955. I am excited by the work that you are doing every day, helping to shape our relationship with Laos. This is a quick first stop for me to demonstrate the high-level commitment that we have to this relationship and our desire to broaden and deepen it. I couldn’t leave without thanking all of you for what you do every single day. I want to thank Ambassador Karen Stewart. Karen and I went to the same college; we’re both Wellesley College alums. This is the third assignment for her in Laos, and I have to tell you that her performance at the Laos Street Jamz festival will go down in history.

I have been now in 102 countries, and I can count on one hand those countries where the head of state or government thanks me for the ambassador we’ve sent. And that has happened today with both the Foreign Minister and the Prime Minister because of Ambassador Stewart’s great devotion to this country, her knowledge of the language and the customs. It’s really making a difference.

I also want to thank the locally employed staff. And I just had a chance to take a picture with them, including our longest-serving locally employed staff for now 36 years, and we are grateful. Please stand. We will give you a round of applause. (Applause.) We could not do our work without you. We are very, very grateful to each and every one of you for being part of this mission.

When I met with the Foreign Minister, we traced the arc of our relationship, from addressing the tragic legacies of the past, to finding new ways to partner for the future. And through trips like this one, the United States is deepening our engagement in the Asia Pacific. We’re practicing what I call forward-deployed diplomacy, using all of our diplomatic assets in a whole-of-government approach represented by so many agencies and departments in order to make our presence known and to be an effective partner.

Now here in Laos, the past is always with us. I just finished touring COPE, a painful reminder of the legacy of the Vietnam War era. An estimated 80 million unexploded cluster bombs remain scattered across Laos, and they continue to kill or injure about a hundred people a year, which is good because that’s down from several hundreds a year, but it still is unacceptable. And since 1995, the U.S. has provided nearly $59 million to help remove more than a million of these cluster munitions along with larger ordnance, clearing some 23,000 hectares of land that can now be used for farming or development. This year, we are increasing our financial commitment by $4 million, and I hope others in the international community will join us in our efforts to bring this legacy of the Vietnam War era to a safe end and give the people, particularly the children of this nation, the opportunity to live their lives safe from these unexploded bombs.

Now collectively, you are doing so much. You’ve been to every province, teaching English to government officials and students, connecting U.S. business leaders with entrepreneurs, helping rural provinces prepare for natural disasters, delivering tons of rice and cereal to hundreds of thousands of school children. And with 70 percent of the population under the age of 30, we are looking to the next generation of leaders to continue developing their country, to fighting corruption, opening up the political system to women and minorities, and strengthening reforms.

Now through the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation, a program near and dear to my heart, we will be providing $215,000 in additional preservation work to the iconic Wat Xieng Thong Temple. Through the Lower Mekong Initiative, we are expanding regional cooperation and we’re trying to open new markets in Laos through our economic statecraft agenda. We are expanding cooperation between our militaries, we’ve renewed our in-country USAID presence, upping the tempo of our fight against HIV/AIDS, and doing so much more.

We had excellent bilateral dialogue just a few weeks ago and we are pleased by the progress we are making together. With your help, we are writing a new chapter in our relationship and building a new, comprehensive partnership for the 21st century. I’m grateful for your long hours, your hard work, and your commitment. And I hope that we will continue to see progress from the multiple efforts that each of you is engaged in. And now, I think we’re going to take a couple of pictures.

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Well finally the State Department has released details about Mme. Secretary’s current travel itinerary.  Here goes – it is extensive – just under two weeks.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Travel to France, Japan, Mongolia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Egypt and Israel

Press Statement

Victoria Nuland
Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
July 5, 2012

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will travel to France, Japan, Mongolia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Egypt and Israel departing Washington, D.C. on July 5.

In Paris on July 6, Secretary Clinton will attend the third meeting of the Friends of the Syrian People. At that meeting, the Secretary will consult with her colleagues on steps to increase pressure on the Assad regime and to support UN-Arab League Special Envoy Annan’s efforts to end the violence and facilitate a political transition to a post-Assad Syria. Secretary Clinton will consult with French leaders regarding next steps on Syria as well as on a number of other key areas of global concern. As part of her ongoing consultations with senior Palestinian and Israeli leaders, the Secretary will also meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss both parties’ efforts to pursue a dialogue and build on President Abbas’ exchange of letters with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Secretary will then travel to Tokyo to attend the July 8 Conference on Afghanistan, where she will reaffirm our enduring commitment to the Afghan people and join the international community in supporting Afghanistan’s development needs for the “transformation decade” to begin in 2015. As part of the mutual commitments made by the international community and Afghanistan at the Bonn conference last December, the Afghan Government in turn will lay out its plan for economic reform and continued steps toward good governance. She will also have discussions with Japanese Government counterparts on bilateral, regional, and global issues of mutual concern.

In Ulaanbaatar on July 9, Secretary Clinton will meet with President Elbegdorj and Prime Minister Batbold and address the meeting of the Governing Board of the Community of Democracies, as well as an international women’s conference.

In Hanoi on July 10, the Secretary will meet with senior Vietnamese leaders. She will witness the signing of several agreements covering education exchanges and commercial contracts and meet with representatives of U.S. and Vietnamese business communities.

Secretary Clinton will arrive in Vientiane on July 11. This groundbreaking visit to Laos marks the first by a Secretary of State in 57 years. The Secretary will meet with Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong and other senior government officials to discuss a variety of bilateral and regional issues, including the Lower Mekong Initiative and ASEAN integration efforts.

Secretary Clinton will arrive in Phnom Penh on July 11 to participate in regional conferences, to both chair and attend ministerial events and to participate in bilateral meetings with Cambodian officials. Regional conferences include the ASEAN Regional Forum, the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers Meeting, and the U.S.-ASEAN Post-Ministerial Conference. Secretary Clinton will co-chair the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) Ministerial as well as chair the Friends of the Lower Mekong Ministerial Meeting. Secretary Clinton will also participate in bilateral meetings with senior Cambodian leadership. After Phnom Penh, Secretary Clinton will travel to Siem Reap to lead the largest delegation of U.S. business representatives to Cambodia for an ASEAN event at the ‘Commitment to Connectivity – U.S.-ASEAN Business Forum.’ While in Siem Reap, Secretary Clinton will deliver the keynote address at the Lower Mekong Initiative Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Dialogue on July 13.

On July 14, Secretary Clinton will travel to Egypt to express the United States’ support for Egypt’s democratic transition and economic development. From July 15-16, she will meet with senior government officials, civil society, and business leaders, and inaugurate the U.S. Consulate General in Alexandria.

This will be followed by a stop in Israel on July 16-17, where she will be meeting with the Israeli leadership to discuss peace efforts and a range of regional and bilateral issues of mutual concern.

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Lao New Year

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
April 12, 2012

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to send best wishes to the people of Laos as you celebrate your New Year.

As we commemorate the 57th anniversary of our bilateral relationship, we reflect on our history of partnership and cooperation. Today, we are building on this foundation of mutual understanding and respect by increasing trade, strengthening law enforcement, improving health, and solving regional issues that are important to the people of Laos and the United States.

As you celebrate this special day and honor Lao culture, heritage, and the rich traditions of the Lao New Year, know that the United States stands with you. Best wishes for a safe and happy New Year.

Nepali New Year (Bikram Sambat) Message

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
April 12, 2012

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am delighted to send best wishes to the people of Nepal as you celebrate the New Year.

As Nepalis around the world reflect on the achievements of the past year and look ahead to new possibilities and opportunities, know that the United States stands with you as a steadfast friend and partner. We look forward to working with Nepal to continue to strengthen the foundations of peace and prosperity in the years to come.

Enjoy a safe and happy holiday. Naya Barshako Shubha-Kamana!

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Songkran Festival – Thai New Year

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
April 11, 2011

On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I send best wishes to the people of Thailand as you celebrate the Songkran Festival and the Thai New Year in the coming days.

During my visit to Thailand two years ago, I was impressed with the optimism of the Thai people and the opportunities for our two countries to grow even stronger. Thailand is one of our most enduring and strongest allies. We recently marked the 50th anniversary of His Majesty the King’s historic visit to the United States. The spirit of cooperation and respect started all those years ago continues today as Thais and Americans work side by side on peacekeeping operations and groundbreaking medical research. Our citizens — many of whom have visited Thailand as workers, tourists, or students — have benefited in countless ways from Thailand’s rich culture and traditions.

As you celebrate your New Year, know that the United States is committed to Thailand’s future. We look forward to continuing to work together to strengthen and deepen this important friendship and alliance.

 

Lao New Year

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
April 11, 2011

On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I am delighted to send congratulations to the people of Laos as you celebrate the New Year in the coming days.

Our two countries are cooperating on a range of issues. We are working together to provide new commercial opportunities for Laos, fight drug addiction and illegal drug trafficking, expand our military-to-military cooperation and turn the tide on pandemic diseases. In the United States, Laotian Americans have positively contributed in ways large and small, from art and film to sports and literature. This year, as we mark 56 years of diplomatic relations, we remain committed to finding new ways to expand opportunities for more people in both of our countries.

I wish all Lao people joy and prosperity in the coming year. Sook dii pii mai, happy new year!

 

Khmer New Year

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
April 11, 2011

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of the Kingdom of Cambodia as you celebrate the Khmer New Year in the coming days. The Khmer New Year is an opportunity to gather with family, friends and neighbors to honor Cambodia’s rich traditions and culture.

During my visit to Cambodia last year, I was encouraged by the optimism of the next generation of leaders, the opportunities for our two countries to deepen and grow our relationship, and the enduring spirit of all Cambodian people. Our two countries are already cooperating on a range of issues – from curbing public health concerns to expanding international peacekeeping efforts – and we remain committed to finding new ways to strengthening our partnership to benefit the people of both of our countries.

As you celebrate the new year, know that the United States is committed to the people of Cambodia and we extend our warmest wishes for a peaceful, prosperous, and happy New Year.

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Remarks With Laos Deputy Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith Before Their Meeting

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
July 13, 2010

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I am delighted to welcome the deputy prime minister and foreign minister from Laos here to the State Department. We have been engaged in discussions about a number of important issues and I look forward to our meeting to further that discussion.
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER THONGLOUN: Yes. Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, sir.
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER THONGLOUN: Thank you very much. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. –

Last night I wanted to put up these two additional releases, but had connectivity problems at home. If I should disappear for awhile, that will be the reason. It once took Verizon two weeks to correct the issue, meaning I will not be able to post except from the office. Just a heads-up. This blog is not going anywhere (except to the White House.)

U.S. Signs Open Skies Accord with Laos

Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
July 13, 2010

The United States and Laos today at the State Department signed a comprehensive Open Skies agreement to expand and liberalize their bilateral civil aviation relationship. Assistant Secretary of State for Economic, Energy, and Business Affairs Jose W. Fernandez signed for the United States. Lao Ambassador to the United States Seng Soukhathivong signed for Laos. The Deputy Prime Minister of Laos, Dr. Thongloun Sisoulith, witnessed the signing.

The Open Skies agreement between the United States and Laos represents a market-oriented approach to aviation relations. The agreement will facilitate trade and tourism links with Laos and provide new commercial opportunities to airlines of the United States and Laos and the traveling public, while preserving our commitments to aviation safety and security.

The United States has previously reached Open Skies agreements with nearly 100 countries.

For more information about Open Skies, visit http://www.state.gov/e/eeb/rls/fs/2009/119760.htm.

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Secretary Clinton’s Meeting with Lao Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Thongloun Sisoulith

Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
July 13, 2010

Following is the text of a joint statement by the United States and Laos issued on July 13, 2010 in Washington, D.C.

In this 55th anniversary year of bilateral diplomatic relations, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Lao Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Thongloun Sisoulith met today for a cordial and productive discussion of common interests in Southeast Asia, and of growing areas of bilateral cooperation.

The United States and Laos continue their longtime cooperation in the search for Americans missing from the Indochina War, on clearance of unexploded ordnance remaining from the war, and on fighting drug addiction and illegal drug trafficking. More recently, the two countries have been working closely together on preventing the emergence of pandemic diseases, and continue to gradually expand military-to-military cooperation following the exchange of defense attachés. Secretary Clinton and Deputy Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith welcomed the signing of an “Air Transport Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic” that will facilitate greater trade and tourism exchanges. They discussed the opportunities to expand the role of the U.S. Agency for International Development in the Lao PDR.

Secretary Clinton and Deputy Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith both emphasized that increasing exchanges and cooperation between the United States of America and the Lao PDR are producing mutual benefits and a constructive relationship contributing to peace, stability and cooperation for development in the region and the world.

While expressing his sincere thanks for the warm welcome extended him and his delegation, Deputy Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith invited Secretary Clinton to pay an official visit to the Lao PDR at a convenient time.

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