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In 1951 the United States began providing economic assistance to the Associated States of Indochina, a region in which the US had previously shown little interest. This assistance grew, and in 1955 'US Operations Mission / Laos' was established in Vientiane. In 1961 both the Peace Corps and the Agency for International Development (AID) were established. The Peace Corps never operated in Laos, but the USAID programme grew rapidly after 1962, reached a peak in 1968, declined sharply, and ended in 1975. Despite the political turn of events, USAID left an enduring legacy of value, the most significant of which was probably its support for the 'Laoization' of education, supporting a system of education for all, breaking with the elitist French education culture. In January 2011, USAID returned to Laos after a 35 year absence, working mainly in the fields of health, environmental protection and conservation, and economic development.
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