U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN Nina Hachigian arrived in Vientiane on June 25 for two days of meetings to explore the Lao PDR’s plans and priorities for ASEAN, while reinforcing U.S. support for Laos’ 2016 ASEAN chairmanship preparations. This is Ambassador Hachigian’s first visit to Laos, and it offers her a chance to better understand the country while learning about government’s plans for increasing economic integration under the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).
“I feel truly welcomed by the warm people of the Lao PDR, and throughout my meetings here, it has been clear that we have many opportunities for collaboration,” said Ambassador Hachigian.
“As Laos moves toward its ASEAN chairmanship and ASEAN establishes the AEC, our bilateral relationship continues to expand and deepen. The United States is a strong supporter of ASEAN centrality, so we look forward to working with the government of the Lao PDR in preparation for its ASEAN chairmanship, throughout the year, and well beyond,” continued the Ambassador. The United States is already providing assistance to Laos to help it prepare for the ASEAN chairmanship, by providing workshops and English language training for Lao officials who will work on ASEAN meetings.
Ambassador Hachigian was able to discuss shared priorities with Lao officials, including enhancing economic integration, cultivating of emerging leaders, promoting opportunity for women, and fostering green growth.
In addition to meetings with Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Saleumxay Kommasith, Vice Minister of Commerce and Industry Somchit Inthamit, and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Ambassador Hachigian called on Mr. So Sophort, Officer in Charge of the Mekong River Commission Secretariat and Mrs. Bundith Prathoumvanh, Vice President of the Lao Women’s Union.
Ambassador Hachigian also heard directly from emerging Lao leaders who are participating in the Young South East Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) and who shared their visions for the ASEAN community.
Ambassador Nina Hachigian was sworn in as the United States Ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on September 19, 2014. In her capacity as Chief of the U.S. Mission to ASEAN, Ambassador Hachigian is responsible for working with ASEAN member states and other stakeholders to advance U.S. interests in a peaceful, prosperous, and integrated Southeast Asia.