VIENTIANE, Laos (AP) – President Barack Obama is opening a historic visit to Laos on a mission to heal war wounds and reinvigorate relations with a country with rising strategic importance to the U.S.
Obama has been greeted by a military band, traditional dancers and a tropical rain. He says he hopes to forge a partnership that would make the two countries whole again.
Obama is the first sitting U.S. president to set foot in the impoverished, landlocked country, where for nine years the U.S. conducted a punishing, covert bombing campaign in an effort to cut off communist forces in neighboring Vietnam.
As a first step, the Obama administration has announced it was committing $90 million to clearing the unexploded ordnance.