(AsiaNews / Agencies) - Hillary Clinton arrived in Laos today, becoming the
first U.S. Secretary of State to visit the country in 57 years. A
trip already defined "historic", which will address the Vietnam War
and the controversial Xayaburi dam, the mega hydro-electric plant, the center
of controversy for the environmental impact on the Mekong and the people who
live along the River. The
last U.S. official to visit Laos was John Foster Dulles in 1955.
Fresh from Vietnam, after Laos, Clinton will travel to Cambodia, where the ASEAN Summit is underway. "My trip - said the U.S. Secretary of State - reflects the strategic priority of American foreign policy. After 10 years of focuse on the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, we want to increase our investments - diplomatic, economic, strategic - in this part of the world. "
Costing 3.8 billion US dollars, the Xayaburi Dam project has caused tensions between Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand, countries around the Mekong.
Regarding the Vietnam War, the effects of Agent Orange will be discussed during the visit, a powerful herbicide used by the United States between 1961 and 1979, allegedly responsible for diseases, birth defects and cancers among the people involved in the Vietnam War and veterans.
In Cambodia, where she will arrive at the end of this week, Clinton will meet with representatives of 10 nations of ASEAN countries (Southeast Asia). The goal is to establish a code of conduct for the South China Sea, in order to resolve disputes over territorial boundaries which have pitted the Philippines, China and Vietnam against eachother.