Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer
6 November 2001
Kerry and Kay Danes pardoned in Laos
I am delighted that Kerry and Kay Danes have been pardoned by Lao President Khamtay Siphandone today. The Government has worked hard to achieve this outcome, and we look forward to them being reunited with their family in Australia very soon.
President Khamtay Siphandone signed the pardon this morning, and this was conveyed to the Danes this evening at a formal ceremony at the Foreign Ministry in Vientiane. The Danes were advised they were free to leave Laos and welcome to return at any time if they wished.
I extend my very best wishes to Kerry and Kay and their family for the future. They have all been through an extremely difficult time. Throughout we have kept in close contact with Kerry and Kay's family in Queensland.
The Government has worked tirelessly to resolve this very difficult case since Kerry and Kay were detained on 23 December last year. I have made a number of strong personal representations to the Lao Government, in particular to the Foreign Minister Mr Somsavat Lengsavad. The former Governor-General and Mr Howard have also written in support.
This welcome development also follows intensive negotiations conducted at my direction by officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The Danes have been staying at the Australian Ambassador's residence in Vientiane for the past month.
Australia and Laos have enjoyed a friendly and cooperative diplomatic relationship for almost 50 years. It is the strength of this relationship that has enabled us to work together to find a resolution.
I would like to thank the Australian officials who have worked hard to help bring about this very welcome outcome, particularly the staff of the Australian Embassy in Vientiane and the Consular Branch of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
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