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US gives Laos $90-M funds

The United States announced on Tuesday it would provide an additional $90 million over the next three years to help Laos, heavily bombed during the Vietnam War, clear unexploded ordnance, which have killed or injured more than 20,000 people.

The figure announced during President Barack Obama’s first visit to Laos is close to the $100 million the United States has spent in the past 20 years on clearing its UXO in Laos. From 1964 to 1973, US warplanes dropped more than 270 million cluster munitions on the communist country, one-third of which did not explode, according to the Lao National Regulatory Authority for UXO.

Obama became the first US president to visit Laos when he arrived in the once-isolated country on Monday to attend two regional summits, half a century after America’s “secret war” left Laos with the unfortunate distinction of being the most heavily bombed country, per capita, in history. The White House said in a statement US programs in Laos had helped slash UXO casualties from 300 to less than 50 a year and the additional funding would be for a “comprehensive UXO survey of Laos and for continued clearing operations.” (Reuters)

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