LAO PEOPLE'S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC

Statement
by
H.E. Mr. Somsavat Lengsavad,
Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs
Head of Delegation of the
Lao People's Democratic Republic

At the 58th session of the United Nations
General Assembly

New York, 30th September 2003

Mr. President,

Let me convey my congratulations to you on your assumption of the presidency of this fifty-eighth session of the UN General Assembly. We are confident that this Assembly stands to benefit greatly from your diplomatic experiences and skills. Like others, allow me to pledge the full support and cooperation of the Lao delegation to you in accomplishing your duties and express the hope that our deliberations on many of the most pressing world issues will be fruitful.

Mr. President,

Since the last time we convened, the world has gone through major changes and challenges. Although peace, dialogue and cooperation for development continue to prevail today across many regions, we have been bearing witness to a world beset by terror, civil wars, armed conflicts and violence, acts of aggression and interference in the internal affairs of states. In handling these problems, we believe it is contingent upon all of us to show patience, courage and determination and strive to solve them through dialogue, diplomacy and political means. Towards this end, we should continue to seek the multilateral routes through the United Nations. In this regard, we would like to make a special mention of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. While we wish him more success as he endeavours to defend and promote the principles and ideals of this universal organization, we can only express great appreciation for the efforts he has rendered.

Mr. President,

At present, the problems plaguing our planet, alas, are not limited to those considered political or military. There are also those that affect the environmental, social and economic fronts. More strikingly are the issues of global warming, pollution, natural disasters, HIV/ AIDS, incurable diseases, poverty and underdevelopment, the crises of refugees, debt and economic stagnation that have yet to find effective measures. The severity of these problems is even more acute in a globalized world of widening gap between developed and developing countries. We should therefore strive to effectively address these problems in order to meet the Millennium Development Goals adopted three years ago by this august Assembly. Standing here today and recommitting ourselves to meeting those noble goals, we want a world where poverty and hunger is alleviated; where education is offered to every child; where women have the same opportunities as their fellow men; where incurable diseases are effectively combated; and where the world continues to build partnership and cooperation for sustained economic growth and sustainable development.

Mr. President,

For many years, the Land-Locked Developing Countries (LLDCs) have attached a particular interest to their special needs and problems. As Chairman of this 31-member Group for the past four years, the Lao PDR has spared no effort in bringing the special needs and problems of LLDCs to the forefront of the international arena. As a result of this long-standing concerted effort, the International Ministerial Conference of Landlocked and Transit Developing Countries and the Donor Community on Transit Transport Cooperation was held last month in Kazakhstan as the first-ever UN conference of its kind. The meeting adopted the Almaty Declaration and Program of Action. We are delighted that this global program of action addresses, first and foremost, the special needs and problems of LLDCs, while taking into account the legitimate concerns of transit developing countries. In this respect, all stakeholders are urged to fully and effectively implement the Almaty Program of Action in the years to come.

Mr. President,

Since its inception, the United Nations has performed multiple activities in various areas such as the maintenance of peace and security, socio-economic development, humanitarian assistance, promotion of international law, human rights and protection of the environment. In these endeavors, the United Nations has achieved many successes, including in the field of socio-economic development. However, in many other areas, still more effort is required in order to attain better results. This year, as Secretary General Annan has said in his annual report (A/58/1), "in the area of peace and security, it has been a trying year for the United Nations. The war in Iraq severely tested the principle of collective ,security and the resilience of the Organization". In the light of this, and in our present world situation, the Security Council - the main body for the maintenance of international peace and security - should play its full role in securing peace and security in the world as stipulated in the UN Charter. The Security Council members, especially the permanent members, should do everything possible to ensure that this organ effectively discharges its duties in the safeguard of peace and security. A safe and secure world would enable all nations to better promote their socio-economic development. The international community is thereby urged to deploy serious efforts towards this end.

Mr. President,

In a world where cooperation for development is widespread, where in every region there is economic integration to achieve common benefits, it is regrettable that the economic, commercial and financial restrictions imposed on Cuba continues. In this regard, we would like to reaffirm the support of the Lao PDR for the UN General Assembly resolution that calls for the lifting of such a restricted policy with the aim of benefiting all peoples in the region as well as the world at large.

In the Middle East, we continue to be gravely concerned about the ongoing violence and disproportionate use of force that have brought nothing but destructions and deaths to both Palestine and Israel. We urge that the two sides exercise utmost restraints and engage in earnest negotiations so that peace and cooperation could eventually ensue in the region. In doing so, by 2005, the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people to establish an independent and viable state, living side by side with Israel in peace and security, could become a reality.

The Lao PDR has followed the recent developments in the Korean peninsula with great attention. We render our full support to the six party talks hosted in Beijing in August by and with the active contribution of the Government of China. We are pleased with the significant progress achieved by this meeting. We very much hope that the dialogue process will be pursued to address the nuclear issue in parallel with the security of the DPR Korea. This will no doubt contribute to the realization of a nuclear-free Korean Peninsular, the assurance of security for all countries in North-East Asia and the peaceful reunification of the two Koreas.

Mr. President,

Over the past year, the Lao people of all ethnic groups have pursued their national development in unity and harmony. We are delighted that through the promotion of untapped potentials of all domestic economic sectors and the expansion of cooperation with the international community, the pace of the national economic growth has increased continuously, the livelihood of the people, particularly those in the rural areas has been further improved, and last but least, the political stability and social order have been ensured and strengthened.

In order to free the country from underdevelopment, apart from the effort that has been deployed `domestically, we have attached great importance to the achievements made in our increased effort to implement the ASEAN regional integration. We highly value the continued development of cooperation between ASEAN and the People's Republic of China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India and other dialogue partners. Furthermore, we are pleased with the new chapter in the strengthening of cooperation between ASEAN and the USA, in particular the signing of the Bilateral Trade Agreement between the Governments of the Lao PDR and the USA in Vientiane on 19 September this year. In this regard, I wish to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to friendly countries and international organizations for the invaluable assistance and support rendered to the cause of our national development.

Mr. President,

Ushering into this new century, humankind has a strong aspiration for peace and cooperation for development across the globe. In accordance with the UN Charter and international law, we should exert our collective efforts in building a better world. In this spirit, our delegation once again calls for cooperation and unity in designing and implementing action-oriented measures to tackle the challenges and problems plaguing our planet. By doing this, our future generations will commend us for all our efforts in laying out conditions for their peaceful lives and prosperity.

Thank You.