Japan to assist Laos with UXO removal, development

TOKYO (Kyodo News) — Japan will provide grant aid totalling US$11 million to help Laos   speed up the removal of unexploded ordnance (UXO) left over from the Indochina War    and prepare for hosting ASEAN meetings next year, according to an accord they signed    on Saturday.

 Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lauded the agreement at a joint press conference   with Lao Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong after witnessing the signing of the   deal  in Tokyo on the fringes of a summit meeting of Japan and five Southeast Asian   Mekong  countries.

US$6.9 million of the deal will be used for UXO removal efforts with US$4.1 million to   assist the country to serve as ASEAN chair next year.

  “Much unexploded ordnance remains in Laos and this is blocking economic and social

development. I strongly hope that efforts to remove it will be accelerated,” Mr Abe said.   Japan’s latest aid would also help develop the land after UXO removal aiding efforts torebuild the economy and alleviate poverty in Laos, Japanese officials said.

Mr Thongsing said at the news conference he remained thankful for Japan’s financial aid which continues to play a “vital role” in his country’s economy and social development. Mr Abe and Mr Thongsing also reaffirmed their cooperation in pushing for infrastructure development in Laos, which is one of the least-developed countries in the 10-member ASEAN.