Lao and Thai authorities have agreed on a timeframe to return all the nearly 8,000 Hmong refugees currently living in Ban Hua Nam Khao in Thailand's Phetchabun province to Laos by the end of next year, regardless of their CIA links or their will.
The agreement was reached during the Sept. 20 meeting in Vang Vieng of the Lao-Thai Border Security Subcommittee, which was jointly chaired by Brigadier General Bouasieng Champaphan, deputy head of the Army General Political Department of the Lao PDR, and Lieutenant General Nipat Thonglek, director of Thailand's Supreme Command Office's Department of Border Affairs.
The Thai authorities, who consider the Huay Nam Khao Hmongs illegal
immigrants, say they expect the on-going screening of the Hmongs will be completed at the end of this year, and repatriation should start immediately and should be completed by the end of 2008.
Listen to our Laos Today report for more details in Lao.