PM announces $60m for Laos programs
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced $60 million in assistance for a number of programs to help impoverished people in Laos gain skills and have access to small business loans.
Ms Gillard, in Vientiane for the 9th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), was set to hold a series of bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the summit.
Ms Gillard met with Laotian Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong on Sunday night.
The assistance packages announced on Monday provide $41.5 million for a rural livelihoods program.
More than 360,000 children under the age of five in Laos - half the childhood population - are stunted through malnutrition and about 1.8 million people do not have access to adequate nutrition.
The program aims to boost economic security and is expected to provide 350,000 people with access to financial services including loans.
Another $20 million will be provided to establish a new Laos-Australia Institute, which will provide training to help the country tackle key developmental challenges.
The institute will open next year.
Ms Gillard has a number of other bilateral meetings scheduled for Monday, including talks with Burmese President Thein Sein.
It will be the first time an Australian prime minister has met with the leader of Burma since 1984.
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