An official at the Swedish embassy in Vientiane say Sweden's development cooperation with the Lao PDR will be faded out in the next four years, and so the Swedish embassy there will be downgraded to a section office by mid-2008 at the latest since the embassy's activities are predominantly related to development assistance to Laos.
The move is in connection with the Swedish government's decision to divert its development aid to Africa, where it says people are in more dire need. Sweden has been helping Laos in its development efforts for the past 34 years. The cancellation of Swedish assistance will be a big loss for Laos because Sweden ranks fourth in total assistance to Laos after Japan, France and Germany.
Sweden's bilateral development cooperation with Laos has concentrated in the areas of educational development, road development in rural areas, and improving the lives of Lao people in general, among other things.
Embassy officials say Sweden's aid to Laos in the next four years will be to continue on and finish existing development projects, with a projected assistance of 20-25 million dollars a year.
Listen to our Laos Today report for more details in Lao.