Neutrality for Laos


 President John F. Kennedy with Prime Minister of Laos, Prince Souvanna Phouma

On July 23, 1962, 14 countries signed an agreement guaranteeing the neutrality of Laos. The agreement was signed after a conference in Geneva that lasted from May 1961 to July 1962.

After the French defeat in the Indochina war, Laos gained its independence in 1960. A civil war developed almost immediately between the Royal Lao Army and the Pathet Laos. The US supported then Royal Army while the Soviets supported the Pathet Lao. At the suggestion of President Kennedy, a Conference convened with the stated goal of ensuring Laos' neutrality. The conference lasted from May 16, 1961, to July 23, 1962. At its conclusion, an agreement was signed to create a three-part government made up of pro- American, pro-Soviet and neutral groups. The agreement also called on all sides to honor the neutrality of the country and not to interfere in its internal affairs. The signatures on the accord were Burma, Cambodia, Canada, the People's Republic of China, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, France, India, Poland, the Republic of Vietnam, Thailand, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States.