Laos unhappy over US visa sanctions

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Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha (R) and Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith listen to national anthems during a welcoming ceremony at the Government House in Bangkok, Thailand, July 6, 2016. Xinhua/Rachen Sageamsak

VIENTIANE (Xinhua) – The Lao government has expressed its regret and disappointment over visa sanctions imposed by the U.S. government against officials in Laos, local daily Vientiane Times reported yesterday.

The US has claimed that Laos had inadequately cooperated in receiving certain Lao nationals that the United States seeks to deport.

The visa sanction applies to officials at the director general level and above from the Lao Ministry of Public Security and their immediate families as well as individuals employed by Lao government officials, according to the US Department of Homeland Security.

The Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement on July 10, describing the US action as “unacceptable.”

“The Lao PDR government expresses its profound disappointment and regret over the visa sanctions unilaterally imposed by the US government against Laos for the so-called ‘lack of adequate cooperation from the Lao side in documenting and facilitating the return home of those claimed to be Lao nationals who have exhausted their legal remedies and have no right to remain in the United States’,” the ministry said in the statement posted on its website.

“This unfounded and unfair act by the US government is not only unacceptable and counterproductive but may bring about a negative impact on the positive and growing Laos-US cooperative relationship as well.”

The Lao government has established an Ad-hoc Committee chaired by deputy minister of public security to be directly responsible for cooperation with the US side in addressing the repatriation issue, the ministry said.

Three cases have been accepted by Laos of which two have already been repatriated to Laos. Nine cases are under consideration and subject to interviews which are scheduled on July 27.

“For this reason, the US government is urged to consider removing this measure against Laos as soon as possible for the common benefits of the two countries and the peoples,” the statement said.

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