Laos – United States relations
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Laos – United States relations officialy began when the United States opened a legation in Laos in 1950, when Laos was a semi-autonomous state within French Indochina. These relations were maintained after Laotian independence in 1954.
War between the United States and Communist insurgents in Indochina, which was partially conducted on Laotian territory, as well as U.S. involvement in the Laotian Civil War, strained relations between the two countries. Although diplomatic relations were never severed following the end of the war in 1975, U.S.-Lao relations deteriorated as Laos had come under the rule of the communist Pathet Lao. The relationship remained cool until 1982 when efforts at improvement began. Full diplomatic relations were restored in 1992 with a return to ambassadorial-level representation.
Accounting for Americans missing in Laos from the Vietnam War has been a special focus of the bilateral relationship. Since the late 1980s, joint U.S. and Lao teams have conducted a series of excavations and investigations of sites related to cases of Americans missing in Laos.
Narcotics interdiction activities are also an important part of the bilateral relationship. The United States and Laos cooperate closely on opium crop control projects that have helped to bring about a 96% decline in opium poppy cultivation, from 42,000 hectares in 1989 to 1700 hectares in 2006. Laos, however, remains on the U.S. list of major opium producers. U.S.-sponsored demand reduction programs have increased Laos' capacity to treat both narcotic and amphetamine addiction. The U.S. also provides law enforcement assistance to help contend with the rapid growth in methamphetamine abuse and crime that has occurred in Laos since 2003.
Foreign assistance and trade relations
The U.S. Government provided more than $13.4 million in foreign assistance to Laos in FY 2006, in areas including unexploded ordnance clearance and removal, health and avian influenza, education, economic development, and governance.
In December 2004, the George W Bush signed into law a bill extending normal trade relations to Laos. In February 2005, a bilateral trade agreement (BTA) between the two countries entered into force. There has been a consequent rise in Lao exports to the United States, although the volume of trade remains small in absolute terms. Bilateral trade reached $15.7 million in 2006, compared with $8.9 million in 2003. The Lao Government is working to implement the provisions of the BTA while simultaneously seeking to join the World Trade Organization.
List of U.S. ambassadors to Laos
|Term started||Term ended||U.S. Ambassador|
|August 1950||December 1950||Paul L. Guest|
|29 December 1950||01 November 1954||Donald R. Heath|
|01 November 1954||27 April 1956||Charles W. Yost|
|12 October 1956||08 February 1958||J. Graham Parsons|
|09 April 1958||21 June 1960||Horace H. Smith|
|25 July 1960||28 June 1962||Winthrop G. Brown|
|25 July 1962||01 December 1964||Leonard S. Unger|
|23 December 1964||18 March 1969||William H. Sullivan|
|24 July 1969||23 April 1973||G. McMurtrie Godley|
|20 September 1973||12 April 1975||Charles S. Whitehouse|
|August 1975||March 1978||Thomas J. Corcoran|
|March 1978||September 1979||George B. Roberts, Jr.|
|September 1979||October 1981||Leo J. Moser|
|November 1981||November 1983||William W. Thomas, Jr.|
|November 1983||August 1986||Theresa A. Tull|
|August 1986||August 1989||Harriet W. Isom|
|August 1989||August 1992||Charles B. Salmon, Jr.|
|06 August 1992||26 July 1993||Charles B. Salmon, Jr.|
|08 January 1994||20 August 1996||Victor L. Tomseth|
|05 September 1996||14 June 1999||Wendy Chamberlin|
|18 September 2001||21 April 2004||Douglas A. Hartwick|
|May 2004||May 2007||Patricia M. Haslach|
|22 June 2007||Incumbent||Ravic R. Huso|
- Eugene DeBruin
- Dieter Dengler
- Battle of Lima Site 85
- Foreign relations of the United States
- Foreign relations of Laos
- North Vietnamese invasion of Laos
- CIA activities in Laos
- Operation White Star
- Project 404