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.