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Laos

Volume 404: debated on Tuesday 29 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for what reasons there is no U.K. embassy in the People's Democratic Republic of Laos; and what plans there are to open a mission in Laos. [109640]

The British Embassy in Vientiane was closed in 1985 as part of a package of cost reductions and Her Majesty's Ambassador to Thailand was accredited as Ambassador to Laos. In 1995 a British trade office was opened in Vientiane, as a subsidiary office of the British Embassy in Bangkok, to cover trade and development issues. Consular and estate matters in Laos are covered by the Australian Embassy in Vientiane. All other British interests are covered by the British Embassy in Bangkok. We regularly review commercial and other factors affecting British interests in Laos, but we have no plans to upgrade the British trade office to full Embassy status.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what financial resources have been allocated to the British Trade Office in Laos since 1997. [109641]

Running costs for the British trade office in Laos are subsumed into the running costs of its parent office, the British Embassy in Bangkok. Compiling information on costs since 1997 would incur disproportionate cost. We keep separate figures for estimate purposes only. Running costs for 2002–03 were £36,945.12, but this figure does not include the cost of the office accommodation which, although owned by us, is managed by the Australian Embassy in Vientiane.