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Dialogue provided an opportunity to engage in a comprehensive discussion of bilateral and regional issues.

The United States and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic met on June 27, 2012 in Washington, DC for the Fourth U.S.-Laos Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell and Vice Foreign Minister of Laos Bounkeut Sangsomsak co-chaired the dialogue.

The dialogue provided an opportunity to engage in a comprehensive discussion of bilateral and regional issues that reflected the expanding relationship between the United States and Laos. Discussion subjects included the forthcoming entry of Laos into the World Trade Organization, ongoing bilateral efforts to help reduce the problem of unexploded ordnance in Laos, and cooperation on many areas including health, educational exchanges, counter-narcotics, law enforcement, trafficking-in-persons, and environmental protection.

The two delegations also discussed ongoing efforts to resolve the cases of American personnel still missing in Laos from the Vietnam War period. The United States reaffirmed its support for the Association for the South East Asia Nations, or ASEAN, centrality in the evolving ASEAN-led regional architecture in the Asia-Pacific, and emphasized the importance of ASEAN unity on pressing regional issues.

The United States also noted the addition of Burma into the Lower Mekong Initiative and reaffirmed its commitment to broaden collaboration and information sharing among the six Lower Mekong Initiative partner-countries. The United States highlighted the importance of the Mekong River Commission for development and environmental protection of the region.

The United States affirmed its ongoing and strong support for educational and cultural exchange programs, including the Fulbright Scholarship Program, the International Visitor Leadership Program, and English-language training programs. The United States welcomes the positive trends in the bilateral relationship with Laos. Both delegations look forward to continuing regular consultations on a broad range of issues, including at the next U.S.-Laos Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue.

This article appeared first on Voice of America on Monday, July 2nd 2012.

You can read the original here: U.S. – Laos Bilateral Dialogue