President Barack Obama announced today that the United States is doubling its funding to clear bombs left behind in Laos from a secret U.S. bombing campaign that took place over nine years during the Vietnam War.
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Calling it a “moral obligation to help Laos heal" after the United States’ history in the small country, where he is now attending the ASEAN summit, Obama said the infusion of funds amounts to $90 million over the next three years to help in the removal of bombs still scattered across the country.
Thousands of Laotians have been maimed or killed by leftover ordnance in the decades since the war’s end, and more continue to be killed or injured.
“I know that the remnants of war continue to shatter lives,” the president acknowledged today in an address to the Laotian people.
“That conflict was another reminder that, whatever the cause, whatever our intentions, war inflicts a wrenching toll, especially on innocent men, women and children,” he added. “Today I stand with you in acknowledging the suffering and sacrifices on all sides of that conflict.”
From 1964 to 1973, the United States dropped more than 2 million tons of explosives on Laos as fighting raged next door in Vietnam, making Laos the most heavily bombed country per person in history.
Obama also announced that the U.S., in partnership with Laos, will be increasing efforts to account for and recover the bodies of U.S. service members who went missing in action during the Vietnam War.
“I’m pleased that as a result of this visit, we’ll increase our efforts and bring more of our missing home to their families in America,” he said.