US President meets UXO Lao during COPE visits

On 7 September 2016, the US President, Barack Obama paid a visit to the Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise (COPE) Visitor Center in Vientiane during the ASEAN Summit.

During the visit, President Obama was briefed by UXO Lao Director Mr. Thiphasone Soukhathammavong on UXO survey and clearance work in Lao PDR, detailing UXO Lao’s achievements since its establishment in 1996, as well as the organisation’s future work to support the plans of the Government of Lao PDR to implement Sustainable Development Goal 18.

 President Obama met some of UXO Lao’s deminers, asking  them about how long they had worked for UXO Lao and how  many UXO they have destroyed.

 Khanthaly replied “I have been working with UXO Lao for over  20  years and I could not remember how much UXO we  destroyed  because we found a lot everyday.”

 The day before the visit, President Obama announced that the  United States would provide an additional US$90 million to  address the problem of UXO in Lao PDR over the next three  years. He  acknowledged that Laos is the most affected  country  in the world from bombs dropped during Indochina war  decades  ago, and noted a moral responsibility to “help the  country heal”.

 The United States has supported UXO Lao’s work for many  years. Mr. Thiphasone thanked President Obama for his country’s support.

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