Vietnam Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh has underscored Vietnam and Laos’ determination to foster the special solidarity, friendship and comprehensive cooperation between the two Parties, States and peoples on the occasion of the celebration of the Vietnam-Laos Friendship and Solidarity Year 2012.

In an article on the Vietnam-Laos traditional friendship and special solidarity, FM Minh wrote of the traditional friendship, special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation between Vietnam and Laos as a rare, pure and faithful relationship, a valuable treasure and an important factor for the development of the two countries.

The Vietnam-Laos great friendship and special solidarity fostered by President Ho Chi Minh and President Kaysone Phomvihane with the two countries’ leaders and people further embracing.

The Vietnamese and Lao people are happily organising various activities to mark the 35th anniversary of the Vietnam-Laos Friendship and Cooperation Treaty and the 50th anniversary of their diplomatic ties. The Vietnamese and Lao people always preserve and nurture the special solidarity and mutual assistance between the two countries. The relationship has been consolidated and developed since the Indochinese Communist Party founded in 1930.

The relationship between Vietnam and Laos has been unceasingly promoted since the two countries established diplomatic ties and the signing of the Vietnam-Laos Friendship and Cooperation Treaty, thus contributing to the national construction and liberation cause of the two nations.

At present, the traditional friendship, special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation between Vietnam and Laos are seeing in-depth strong development in various fields.

Vietnam and Laos are further promoting their external and political relationship. The two countries regularly exchange high-ranking delegations, especially since both sides have organised the National Party Congress and National Assembly elections in their respective country.

Since the start of the year, to implement the agreement reached by the two countries’ leaders on the Vietnam-Laos Friendship and Solidarity Year 2012, both sides have sped up the exchange of delegations in terms of number and forms of the visits from high-ranking to ministerial, sectoral and local level.

Both countries have established the National Steering Committee on the Vietnam-Laos Friendship and Solidarity Year 2012 and are closely coordinated in implementing diversified and practical activities.

The cooperation mechanisms between Vietnam and Laos continue to be maintained to bring into play its efficiency. At the 34th session of the Vietnam-Laos Inter-governmental Committee which took place in January, the two sides affirmed to focus on deploying agreements reached by the two countries’ Party and State leaders, jointly organise the Vietnam-Laos Friendship and Solidarity Year 2012, beef up bilateral cooperation in all fields, especially economics and investment by Vietnamese enterprises in Laos, and complete activities of the Vietnam-Laos Cooperation Sub-Committee to increase its efficiency.

Both countries have cemented their security-defence cooperation in all fields, especially training and education.

Under the project to reinforce and upgrade the Vietnam-Laos national land marker system that is being carried out as scheduled, the two countries are striving to define and build remaining markers along their common border by the end of the year and complete the project by 2014.

Bilateral economic cooperation is further enhanced. On investment, Vietnam ranks second among countries investing in Laos with more than 200 projects worth 3.57 billion USD in total. Regarding trade, two-way trade recorded a year-on-year increase of 49.8 percent to 734 million USD in 2011. Vietnam and Laos strive to raise the figure to 1 billion USD in 2012 and 2 billion USD in 2015.

Additionally, both countries have achieved significantly in education with the signing and implementation of a scheme to raise quality and efficiency of Vietnam-Laos cooperation in education and human resource development during the 2011-2020 period.

Bilateral cooperation in transport and communications, culture, sports and tourism and other fields are being promoted. Focus is being paid to cooperation between the two countries’ localities. Over the recent past, the two countries’ border localities have bolstered friendship, solidarity and cooperation to ensure security and order, stability and development in the border. Cooperation between cities and localities such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, the central province of Ha Tinh in Vietnam and Vientiane, Champassak and Khammoune provinces of Laos have been expanded, particularly in economics and trade, which has helped meet localities’ development requirements and exploit their potentials and strengths in land, natural resources and personnel.

In addition to bilateral cooperation, the two countries have beefed up cooperation within the international and regional frameworks, including the ASEAN, the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), Cambodia-Laos-Vietnam (CLV), Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar-Vietnam (CLMV), the Ayeyawady - Chao Phraya - Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) and the East Asia Summit (EAS).

Vietnam has actively assisted Laos in organising the 9 th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM 9) Summit and the Seventh Asia-Europe Parliamentary Partnership (ASEP7) Meeting slated for the end of this year and boosted cooperation with Laos within the Mekong River Commission and sub-regional cooperation mechanisms.

In future, in the context of complicated and unforeseen changes in the world and each country’s development requirement, both countries affirmed their determination to maintain and elevate the traditional friendship, special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation to a new height under the motto of quality and efficiency, contributing to maintaining political stability, sustainable economic growth, in-depth integration and gaining a worthy position in the international arena.

As a close neighbouring nation, the Vietnamese people are always proud of the Lao people as a faithful friend during the past struggles for national liberation and the current national renewal, construction and development.-VNA