VIENTIANE, March 2 (Xinhua) -- The Lao government will step up human resource development and cooperation with development partners to ensure Laos is able to graduate from the Least Developed Country Category in 2026.

Local daily Vientiane Times on Tuesday quoted Lao Minister of Foreign Affairs Saleumxay Kommasith as saying that during a recent triennial review of Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Laos was recommended for graduation with an extended 5-year preparatory period, effectively setting graduation in 2026.

This would occur following a positive and continued trajectory throughout the time period leading up to graduation under the United Nations Committee for Development Policy.

Graduation from LDC status has been a long-term objective of the Lao government since 2000, through strong commitment and consistent progress in implementing National Socio-economic Development Plans.

Laos' removal from the LDC list is not an end in itself and does not imply that no poverty remains but indicates the hard-earned achievements of the government in many priority areas, Saleumxay said.

The decision by the United Nations Committee for Development Policy paves the way for a smooth preparatory period before Laos is officially removed from the list of LDCs, he added.

In 2021, the Committee considered the impact of COVID-19 on development progress, which in turn played a role in the decision to recommend an extended preparatory period before graduation itself would take place.