Japan’s Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and Lao President Choummaly Sayasone have agreed to promote bilateral economic ties, with Japan committing to expanding its official development assistance (ODA).

Japan also pledged to grant 2.95 billion yen (over 30 million USD) to help Laos in forest preservation, efforts to combat climate change and the development of clean energy as well as other environmental efforts.

During his meeting with visiting Lao President Choumamaly Sayasone in Tokyo on March 4, PM Hatoyama said that Japan attached importance to supporting the development of the Mekong region including Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

The Japanese PM stressed Lao efforts on forest preservation, saying the grant aid will be made under the ''Hatoyama Initiative'', under which Japan will provide financial and technical assistance to help developing countries combat climate change.

President Choumamaly Sayasone expressed his appreciation for Japanese support, saying that his country wants to work with Japan in improving the investment climate to create favourable conditions for private Japanese companies to invest in Laos.

The Lao president is on a five-day visit to Japan from March 2./.