The United States did not sever diplomatic relations with Laos, as it did with Cambodia and Vietnam, when communist parties in these countries took power in 1975. Full diplomatic ties, however, were not restored until 1992. The Lao government is said to be heavily influenced by China and Vietnam. Some observers say the LPDR is eager to offset its reliance on its large neighbors, particularly China, by maintaining good relations with the United States and U.S. allies in Asia, but also is wary about U.S. advocacy for democracy and human rights. U.S. engagement in Laos, which has focused largely on helping the LPDR integrate economically into the Southeast Asian region through participating in trade agreements and developing its legal and regulatory frameworks, has expanded and diversified. The Obama Administration requested a substantial increase in foreign assistance to Laos for FY2016. In 2012, Hillary Clinton met with Lao leaders and discussed regional integration, the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI), Vietnam War legacy issues, and the environment. High-level U.S. officials are likely to visit Laos when the LPDR hosts the ASEAN Leaders Meeting and the East Asia Summit in 2016.
Date of Report: June 3, 2015
Order Number: IF10236
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