U.S. President Barack Obama, who is visiting Laos for the annual Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit, mentioned Taiwan as an example of a flourishing Asian democracy during an address on the sidelines of the summit Tuesday.
In his speech to the people of Laos at the Lao National Cultural Hall, Obama, the first sitting U.S. president to set foot in the country, acknowledged the devastation caused by American bombing in the Laotian Civil War, pledged US$90 million to help clean up unexploded bombs in Laos, and stressed the bond and new partnership between the two countries.
But he also said that the two governments will continue to have differences, adding that the United States will continue to speak up on what it considers to be universal human rights, including the rights of the Lao people to express themselves freely and decide their own future.
Later in the speech, Obama said he believes that "nations are stronger and more successful when they uphold human rights."
"And we know that democracy can flourish in Asia because we've seen it thrive, from Japan and South Korea, to Taiwan," he said.
Obama said citizens across the Asian region have shaped their own futures, adding that the American people believe that the freedom of speech and assembly, a free press, and access to information and an open Internet make a country stronger.
Laos is hosting the ASEAN summit and is Obama's final stop in Asia before he leaves office.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel