Laos, Switzerland cement ties with pledge of further aid

Lao Minister of Foreign Affairs Saleumxay Kommasith.

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN): Laos and Switzerland have agreed to enhance their longstanding ties and cooperation, with Switzerland promising assistance valued at 65 million Swiss Francs to Laos over the next four years.

The agreement and the commitment were made during talks between the two countries’ Ministers of Foreign Affairs, which took place in Vientiane on Tuesday.

Vice President and Head of Switzerland’s Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Ignazio Cassis, and his entourage are making an official visit to Laos from Aug 3-4.

It is the first ever and official visit by a Swiss Minister of Foreign Affairs to Laos.

During talks with Lao Minister of Foreign Affairs Saleumxay Kommasith, the two parties agreed on their future direction and how to further elevate the tangible partnership between the two countries to new heights, Saleumxay told a press conference.

“We have agreed to continue encouraging and strengthening cooperation in the areas of trade and investment, agriculture, health, education, tourism, hydropower, governance, disaster and climate change, poverty reduction, humanitarian and other areas of mutual benefit,” the Lao minister said.

“We had a very productive discussion. I consider this official visit by Minister Cassis to be a historic milestone to further strengthen and expand our friendly relations and growing good cooperation, both in bilateral and multilateral frameworks, for the common benefit of the peoples of our two countries in the future.”

The ministers reviewed and evaluated Lao-Swiss cooperation in recent years, noting that significant achievements had been made based on longstanding friendship and good cooperation.

The two countries have mutually supported and agreed to continue support one another in the regional and international arenas, especially within Asean, Asia-Europe meetings, and at the United Nations.

The two sides also agreed to continue high-level exchange visits between the two countries as well as to continue political consultations between their Ministries of Foreign Affairs in the coming years.

On Wednesday, Laos and Switzerland will sign a Framework Agreement between the Lao government and the Swiss Federal Council Concerning Technical, Cultural, Financial and Economic Cooperation, as well as Humanitarian Assistance for 2022-2025.

The agreement will be signed by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Planning and Investment Dr Sonexay Siphandone and Ignazio Cassis.

Saleumxay, on behalf of the Lao government, expressed heartfelt appreciation to the government of Switzerland for the support extended to Laos since 2006-2021, totalling more than 224 million Swiss Francs in value.

Swiss assistance covers various sectors through bilateral and multilateral frameworks such as agriculture, health, education, tourism, statistics, hydropower, governance, UXO clearance, natural resources, climate change, and other projects under humanitarian assistance.

In July 2021, the Swiss government provided meals worth US$790,000 for supply to quarantine centres as well as Covid vaccines through the Covax facility.

Over the next four years (2022-2025), Switzerland has committed to continue its good cooperation with Laos, aiming to contribute to the country’s development priorities by focusing on three main sectors: governance and citizen participation, inclusive economic growth, and climate change and sustainable nature resource management, as well as humanitarian assistance, amounting to 65 million Swiss Francs, Saleumxay said. - Vientiane Times/Asia News Network

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