- Published: 4/02/2010 at 12:00 AM
Vientiane has thanked the Thai government for returning 4,000 ethnic Hmong to Laos.
It said the decision had boosted relations between the two neighbours.
Visiting Lao Deputy Prime Minister Somsavat Lengsavat yesterday said his government was delighted that its Thai counterpart had treated the Hmong issue seriously.
He said the US had pressured the Thai government to reverse its decision to send the Hmong home. The Lao government felt a great sense of relief that Thailand did not bow to those wishes.
The US also attempted to create misunderstandings between Laos and Thailand, he said.
"Since the Indochina war, America has used the Hmong as a special force to create internal problems in Laos," Mr Somsavat said.
The mass deportation in December of the Hmong, an ethnic minority who were used by the US military in its secret war against communist forces in Laos in the 1960s and 1970s, sparked international condemnation of both the Thai and Lao governments.
"Let me be frank, those Western countries are worried about stories they themselves have cooked up," Mr Somsavat said.
"They tried to link [the Hmong issue] to the Cold War, which is not appropriate."
The Hmong were welcomed back to live with their families after having been apart from each other for a long time, he said.
Each Hmong family which returned was given nine rai of farming land and agricultural equipment to enable them to live independently.
The Hmong issue was important for relations between Thailand and Laos, said Wibul Khusakul, the Thai ambassador to Vientiane.
The government’s decision to send the Hmong back to Laos was the right one and had strengthened ties between the two governments, Mr Wibul said.