Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh began his two-day official visit to Laos on December 4 at the invitation of his Lao counterpart Thonglun Sisulith.

He paid courtesy calls to General Secretary of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party (LPRP) and President Chummaly Sayasone and Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong.

The Lao leaders pledged to further foster the traditional friendship, special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation between the two countries.

Party chief Chummaly Sayasone expressed his delight at the growing ties between the two parties and said he believes the two sides will continue working closely for the success of the congress of each party in 2016.

Meanwhile, PM Thongsing Thammavong spoke highly of the two countries’ preparations for the 37th meeting of the Vietnam-Laos Inter-Governmental Committee in 2015.

He praised Vietnam’s top investor position in Laos and its commitment to increasing ODA by 30 percent for his country in the coming time.

A bilateral trade deal should be signed to make a two-way trade value of 2 billion USD in 2015 feasible, he proposed.

On his part, Deputy PM and FM Minh affirmed that the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry will continue joining hands with its partner to further the special ties between the two countries.

Earlier, he held talks with his Lao counterpart Thonglun Sisulith, reaching an agreement that an annual meeting between the two foreign ministries is necessary for sharing information and coordinating actions amid the rapidly changing regional and global situations.

They highly valued the results of the plan to upgrade land border markers along the shared borderline, as well as the implementation of an agreement on the settlement of issues related to immigrants and non-registered marriages in the two countries’ border areas.

Both sides agreed to work harder for the official launch of a “one-stop-shop” model in the Lao Bao- Densavan border gate pair from January 1, 2015.

The two leaders also briefed each other on their respective external policies while sharing views on prominent regional and international issues, including the building of an ASEAN Community.

They pledged to work closely with other ASEAN member countries to successfully form the community by 2015.

Vietnam is willing to support Laos in acting as the ASEAN Chair in 2016, stated Deputy PM and FM Minh.

Following the talks, the leaders signed an agreement on cooperation between the two foreign ministries for the 2014-20 period.

Later the same day, Deputy PM and FM Minh, on behalf of the Party and State of Vietnam, presented the Independence Medal, second class, to Lao Minister of Justice Bounkeut Sangsomsak, who is also former Deputy Foreign Minister.

He also awarded the Labour Medal, third class, and the Friendship Medal to some units of the Lao Foreign Ministry in recognition of their excellent contributions to promoting the special solidarity between Vietnam and Laos.-VNA