Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman (Source: VNA)

Kuala Lumpur (VNA) - Malaysia and Laos have agreed to explore areas of cooperation to strengthen their bilateral relations.

According to a statement from the Lao Foreign Ministry, Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman paid a visit to Lao President Choummaly Sayasone, who wished to further Laos and Malaysia's relations for the mutual benefit of both countries.

Meanwhile, during talks between FM Anifah and his Lao counterpart Thongloun Sisoulith, both sides agreed that the Malaysia-Laos relationship, which was built on trust, respect and a strong bond of friendship, needs to be developed in several areas to reap its full potential.

In this regard, the two ministers identified several areas of cooperation, including expansion in trade and investment, education, tourism, air services, health and defence. 

Regarding bilateral economic cooperation, the statement said Anifah had encouraged more Malaysian companies to invest in Laos and seek opportunities to expand and diversify their businesses in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

Malaysia also reiterated its interest in expanding and sharing its banking expertise with Laos to further strengthen the financial institutions there.

On institutions of higher education, both leaders said Malaysia and Laos should explore the initiation of a programme between institutions that would provide a platform for Lao students to further their studies in Malaysia.

The statement said Malaysia had expressed appreciation to the Lao government for granting approval to AirAsia to commence three weekly flights from Kuala Lumpur to Luang Prabang, beginning this July.

In regards to healthcare, both host and guest set to enhance health care ties through collaboration on disease control, pharmaceuticals, food safety, and research and development.

Malaysia, through its National Pharmaceutical Control Bureau, will offer technical expertise to establish networking and strengthen ties with relevant regulatory authorities.

The countries will also finalise a Memorandum of Understanding on defence cooperation in the near future.

Anifah also expressed Malaysia’s support to Laos in its capacity as ASEAN Chair this year.

As Malaysia and Laos will celebrate the 50 th anniversary of their establishment of diplomatic relations this July 1, both countries agreed on the possibility of convening the fourth Joint Commission Meeting, hosted by Laos, at a mutually convenient date.-VNA