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Obama Doubles Assistance for UXO Clearance During Laos Visit

At the start of his trip to Laos this week, President Barack Obama announced that he would double US assistance for clearing unexploded ordinance (UXO) in the small Southeast Asian nation.

NBC News reports that Obama committed to spending US$90 million on UXO over the next three years, while the US has contributed US$100 million to such efforts over the last two decades.

From 1964 to 1973, the Central Intelligence Agency led a secret bombing campaign on Laos during which the American military dropped more than 270 million cluster bombs, equal to roughly 2 million tons of explosives. According to The Atlantic, that is more bombs than the Allies dropped on Germany and Japan combined during World War II. It is estimated that 80 million of these bombs never went off, leaving behind a deadly legacy that still kills around 50 people every year.

Obama did not apologize for the campaign, but NBC News quoted him saying “given our history here, I believe that the United States has a moral obligation to help Laos heal” during a speech to over 1,000 students, business people and officials.  

Meanwhile, the Lao government agreed to increase efforts to find the remains of American service members still missing since the war ended.

[Photo via PBS]

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