Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s official visit to Laos on Sept. 9 and 10., his first official visit abroad after he was re-elected as Prime Minister of Vietnam, takes place in the context of active development of neighbouring relations, traditional friendship and comprehensive cooperation between Vietnam and Laos.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s official visit to Laos and co-chairing of the Vietnam-Laos investment cooperation conference aims to affirm Vietnam ’s consistent policy to give high priority to enhancing and developing the traditional friendship, special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation between the two countries. It also reflects the determination of the Vietnamese and Lao Party, Government and people together with the Lao Party, Government and people, to boost bilateral ties.

On this occasion, the two countries’ senior leaders will discuss measures to consolidate and promote the Vietnam-Laos cooperation in various fields, including politics, economics, defence and security, as well as discuss regional issues of mutual concern.

At the Vietnam-Laos investment cooperation conference with the participation of hundreds of entrepreneurs, the two sides will assess Vietnam ’s investment in Laos and work out key directions for future bilateral economic, investment and trade cooperation.

Since Vietnam and Laos established their diplomatic ties on Sept. 5, 1962, the two sides have maintained annual meetings of the Inter-Governmental Committees, with 33 sessions, and exchanged high-ranking delegations, including the official visit to Laos by Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong in June, 2011, the official friendship visits to Vietnam by Lao Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong in Feb-March, 2011, Party General Secretary Choummaly Sayasone in August, 2011, and NA President Pany Yathortu (August, 2011).

The two countries’ senior leaders agreed to choose 2012 as the Year of Vietnam-Laos Friendship and Solidarity.

At the 33 rd session of the Vietnam-Laos Inter-Governmental Committee, the two countries signed the 2011 Vietnam-Laos bilateral cooperation agreement, the Vietnam-Laos Cooperation Agreement for 2011-2015 and the Vietnam-Laos Cooperation Strategy for 2011-2020.

Vietnam has maintained its role as one of leading investors in Laos , with 252 investment projects in Laos totalling 3.2 billion USD. They focus on mining, electricity, agriculture and services.

On trade, Vietnam is the third-largest partner of Laos after Thailand and China . Two-way trade rose from 425 million USD in 2008 to 490 million USD in 2010. The figure for the first seven months of 2011 posted a year-on-year increase of 65.8 percent to 402.3 million USD.

The two countries agreed to boost economic cooperation to raise two-way trade value to 2 billion USD in 2015.

Education cooperation between Vietnam and Laos remains the strategic cooperative field. The two sides signed the 2011 education cooperation plan, a scheme to raise the quality and effectiveness of education and human resource development, on the occasion of Vietnamese Minister of Education and Training Pham Vu Luan’s visit to Laos in April 2011.

The further development of solidarity and traditional cooperation between the two countries’ localities have helped ensure social security along border and effectively settle emerging issues to build a borderline of peace, stability and development.

The two sides have also regularly exchanged information on international issues and coordinated through activities of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), organisations and multilateral cooperation forums, as well as enhanced bilateral cooperation and utilised the Mekong River water resources. Vietnam has actively shared its experiences with Laos in organising major events and in international integration to help the latter in joining the World Trade Organisation and the ninth ASEM Summit./.