VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/Asia News Network): Laos and Brunei Darussalam have elevated their ties to a strategic partnership, during a state visit to Laos by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.
The three-day visit from Oct 2-4 by the Sultan of Brunei was made in response to an invitation from President Thongloun Sisoulith, the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a press statement.
The visit aims to further enhance the friendly relations and cooperation between the two Southeast Asian countries as they mark the 30th anniversary of diplomatic ties.
An official welcome ceremony was held at the Presidential office on Tuesday (Oct 3). Shortly after the ceremony, the Lao and Brunei leaders held talks to review bilateral relations and cooperation over the past three decades and discussed future cooperation.
Offering the warmest welcome to the Sultan and his high-ranking delegation, the Lao president said he highly valued the visit, the third of its kind made by the Sultan since the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1993.
The two sides agreed to elevate their ties to a strategic partnership, the Lao ministry said.
The leaders expressed great appreciation for the political relations between their respective countries, which are based on mutual understanding, trust and support. The two nations have exchanged views in the regional and international arenas.
The leaders agreed to promote greater economic cooperation between Laos and the oil-rich nation, especially in trade and investment.
The focus of cooperation will be on areas in which both nations boast potential, such as clean agriculture, production for export, and transport services – areas in which Laos has potential as its landlocked location is increasingly turning into a land link between Southeast Asia and China, spurred on by the Laos-China railway.
The leaders also referred to the need to intensify promotion in tourism and energy generation, as Laos strives to become a battery for countries in the region, thanks to its abundant rivers that offer the potential for clean energy generation.
The two sides also exchanged views on regional and global issues of common interest. Leaders of the two members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) have maintained regular contact and engaged in reciprocal visits over the years.
President Thongloun and the Sultan briefed each other on the socio-economic development situation in their respective countries.
President Thongloun, on behalf of the Lao people, expressed heartfelt thanks and gratitude to the government of Brunei for extending assistance and support to Laos in the past, especially in the fields of education and human resource development and for Laos’ presidency of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in the past and next year.
On his part, the Sultan expressed thanks for the warm hospitality extended to him and his delegation.
Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah also expressed delight that the Lao government had awarded him a National Gold Medal. The award reflects the gratitude of the government and people of Laos for the contributions made by the Sultan of Brunei to fostering cooperation between the two countries over the past 30 years.
He affirmed that Brunei will support Laos in its chairmanship of Asean in 2024. After the talks, the two leaders signed a joint declaration on the Laos-Brunei Strategic Partnership.
President Thongloun, on behalf of the Lao government, pinned the National Gold Medal on the Sultan.
On Tuesday morning, the Brunei leader and his entourage laid a wreath at the Unknown Soldier Monument.
On the same day, President Thongloun hosted a lavish reception dinner in honour of the Sultan and his delegation.