Vientiane (VNA) - Laos is now in its most comprehensive development stage since its founding four decades ago, an achievement to which its neighbour Vietnam contributed, Lao Deputy Prime Minister Somsavat Lengsavad has said.

The official granted an interview to Vietnam News Agency correspondents on the occasion of the 40th founding anniversary of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (LPDR) (December 2, 1975).

He noted that his country has embarked on comprehensive and principled reforms since 1986 after addressing the impacts of war and preparing for a real development process during the previous decade.

Over the last 40 years, people of all ethnic groups in Laos have united under the leadership of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party, which has ensured security and political stability.

The country has made great economic strides, with per capita GDP exceeding 1,800 USD in 2015, compared to only 118 USD in 1980. It has also slashed the poverty rate to about 7 percent.

Prior to 1975, there were only three hydropower dams in Laos with a combined capacity of 36 MW, supplying a very limited amount of electricity to several urban areas. Things have changed, as Laos currently generates more than 6,000 MW of electricity a year, ensuring power access for nearly 90 percent of its population, the Deputy PM noted.

He also highlighted the upgraded and expanded transport system, noting that it now takes less than five hours to cover some 400km from Vientiane to Thakhek in Khammouane province, instead of up to three days, as in the past.

Laos’s agriculture has also improved, thanks to scientific-technological applications and the expansion of irrigation networks, he said, stressing that the nation no longer imports rice to meet domestic demand but is able to export this agricultural product.

The Southeast Asian country has achieved universal primary education nationwide, despite 95 percent of its population being illiterate just a few decades ago. Some districts have universal junior secondary education. This is expected to be accomplished nationwide by 2025, Somsavat Lengsavad added.

Following the LPRD’s establishment, countries that already had diplomatic relations with Laos recognised the LPRD, and none of them canceled relations with the newly founded nation.

Laos has so far had diplomatic relationships with more than 130 countries and reaped numerous attainments in diplomacy, he said, noting that he is most delighted at the thriving of the special connections and all-round cooperation between his country and Vietnam.

Laos borders five nations, but its boundary with Vietnam is the longest (more than 2,000 km). The countries have supported each other throughout history.

The Deputy PM underlined their close partnership in all spheres since the signing of the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation in 1977. Their Inter-governmental Committee on Cooperation has convened 37 meetings, and the 38 th event is scheduled to take place in the near future.

He said Vietnam is always willing to give Laos a hand whenever the latter needs one, acknowledging great support by the Vietnamese Party, State and people to Laos’ accomplishments.

The maintenance and consolidation of the two neighbours’ special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation is critical to their respective national protection and development, the senior official said.-VNA