In an exclusive interview with VOA during his recent visit to Washington, Mr. Thongloun Sisoulith, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Lao PDR, said relations between Laos and the US have improved in many areas, including regular exchange visits by senior officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the State Department. Mr. Thongloun also said that military cooperation between the two countries has considerably improved, and that Laos and the US will exchange military attachés probably by the end of this year or early next year. He added that the US commander in the Pacific visits Laos every year for consultation and cooperation.
Regarding Lao Hmong refugees in Thailand, Mr. Thongloun said Lao
and Thai officials have consulted each other regularly on this matter, and both
armies have cooperated in the repatriation of some 1,673 Hmong back to Laos so
far. He said it does not matter much if the repatriation of all the
remaining Hmong refugees in Thailand could not be completed
by the end of 2008. The most important thing is that both countries
continue to cooperate on this matter.
On Lao migrants working in Thailand, the Lao Deputy Prime Minister said registration and verification of nationality is still going on, and he urged the migrants who have not registered to do so as soon as possible because it will be in their best interests since they will be better protected.
For overseas Laotians who wish to go back to visit
families in Laos, invest, set up businesses, live there permanently, or re-instate their Lao citizenship, Mr. Thongloun said his government is studying a new set of laws to help and accommodate them.
The Deputy Prime Minister of Laos refuted rumors about the construction of China Town in Bung That Luang areas, saying it is simply a new housing project that is jointly invested by a Chinese real estate company and the Lao government to develop the area and sell the houses to any one who can afford to buy them.
Listen to our interview in Lao for more details.