Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Lao counterpart Thongsing Thammavong on March 6 agreed to raise the two countries’ bilateral ties to “Strategic Partnership”.

A joint statement issued after the PMs met in Tokyo said the leaders agreed that the relationship promotion aims to bolster the mutually-beneficial partnership, thus contributing to peace, development and prosperity in the world.

The leaders agreed to hold second bilateral security dialogue as well as boosting economic and investment collaboration between the two countries.

Speaking at a post-talks press conference, PM Shinzo Abe asserted that Japan will continue to assist Laos and other ASEAN member countries to further develop after the formation of the ASEAN Economic Community by the end of 2015.

He offered to assist Laos develop infrastructure, including building hydro-power plants, barrages, and airports.

In return, the Lao PM hailed the new strategic partnership as a part of efforts to strengthen the friendship and collaboration between the two nations.

Earlier on the day, he was received by Emperor Akihito.

The Japan visit was made at a time when the two countries are celebrating the 60th anniversary of their diplomatic ties and Laos will take on ASEAN Chair in 2016.

2014’s statistics showed Japan was the sixth biggest exporter and the fourth leading importer of Laos.

There are 120 Japanese investors in Laos, doubling the 2012 figure.-VNA