US ambassador to Laos Rena Bitter
(KPL) In an interview with the media last Friday, the US ambassador to Laos said that the change in the US government will not result in a change to the commitment made by former US President Barack Obama during his historic visit to Laos last September.
In September of last year, US President Barack Obama made history by becoming the first sitting US president to visit Laos. During his visit, Obama signed a comprehensive Lao-US partnership with his host counterpart Bounnhang Vorachit and pledged to double US government assistance to unexploded ordnance efforts in Laos to US$90 million. He also announced Laos and Nepal as the newest Let Girls Learn Challenge Fund Countries.
“The comprehensive partnership that we’ve created provides an opportunity for us to continue to look for ways to support the people of Laos to become stronger, healthier, and more prosperous,” said Ambassador Rena Bitter.
“The comprehensive partnership and bilateral relationship is based on shared interest and that does not change from administration to administration. American interests and Lao interests are our interests. At this point in time we all want a strong Laos as part of a strong ASEAN. We are not worried that that there will be a pullback in bipartisan support because both parties of the United States support our engagement here. The presidency changes from one party to another, but our interests remain the same,” said the ambassador.
“The Lao-US Comprehensive Partnership aims to enhance cooperation on various areas including politics, economics, education and training, health, humanitarian cooperation, war legacy issues, and people-to-people ties among others.
Since the announcement that our support for UXO clearance would be doubled in order to clear tens of millions of unexploded bombs, one third of the pledged US$90 million has already been awarded to Laos and the rest is expected to be provided in the near future.
As an example of our work with the health sector, last November we broke ground on the Lao-American Nutrition Institute, a partnership between the Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) and the Ministry of Health.
The institute will be used to train nutritionists to work throughout the Lao PDR. The institute started training nutritionists in February.