THONGLOUN SISOULITH, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, said his country had always stood firm in upholding the principle of peacefully resolving problems. In recent decades, it had pursued a foreign policy of peace, independence and cooperation, which was reaffirmed at the ninth congress of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party in March. As a result, his country had achieved considerable progress in social advancement and poverty reduction and, in the next five years, would put in place targets to accelerate economic development. It ultimately aimed to graduate from least developed country status by 2020. The country was vulnerable to external shocks, and he urged enhancing development cooperation to ensure tangible benefits based on solidarity.
Over the last year, the world had seen challenges caused by regional conflict, spreading social unrest, economic crisis and natural disasters, he said, and the United Nations, as the only universal organization, should enhance its role to address those problems in a more timely and just manner. The reform process must be accelerated, notably to allow the Organization to better maintain international peace and security by carrying out its duty to address regional conflicts, such as the situation in the Middle East. The United Nations should play a more effective facilitating role in urging all parties to realize the vision of two States — Israel and Palestine — living side by side in peace and security within internationally recognized borders. The Lao People’s Democratic Republic supported Palestine’s application for full United Nations membership. Also, it was time to lift the United States embargo on the Cuban people.
Turning to South-East Asia, he said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) had made progress based on its three pillars – political-security community, economic community and socio-cultural community. Further, the Asia-Europe Meeting had become another important forum for leaders to consider the response to regional and global challenges. His country would host the ninth Asia-Europe Meeting Summit in November 2012. In other areas, he said unexploded ordnances threatened the Lao People’s Democratic Republic’s work to advance development. The Government had mobilized financial means to clear contaminated areas, and in discharging its duty under the Convention on Cluster Munitions, received invaluable international assistance. The number of States parties had increased to 63 and his country hosted the first meeting of States parties in Vientiane. He hoped States not yet party would consider acceding in the near future.