Party General Secretary and President Nguyen Phu Trong (R) receives Lao PM Thongloun Sisoulith (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Vietnam and Laos have enjoyed a traditional friendship, special solidarity and thriving partnership in all fields.

Over the past years, political ties between the two countries have been expanded with stronger trust, playing the key role in bilateral relations. The two sides have held regular meetings and delegation exchanges in all channels.

The bilateral partnership in defence, security and external affairs has improved with the close coordination in ensuring political stability, defence and security in each country and building a shared border of peace, stability and development.

Along with the effective affiliation in implementing a project to upgrade the border marker system, Vietnam and Laos have worked together to fight trans-border crimes, deal with undocumented marriage and free migration in the border areas and search and repatriate the remains of Vietnamese soldiers who died in Laos, with 233 sets of remains repatriated in the 2017-2018 dry season.

Vietnam and Laos have regularly exchanged viewpoints on regional and international issues, while coordinating with and supporting each other at multilateral cooperation forums, especially within the framework of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the United Nations.

Meanwhile, cooperation in economy, culture, education-training and science-technology has also developed.

By December 2018, Vietnam has invested in 409 projects worth 4.1 billion USD in Laos, mostly in hydropower, mining, industrial plant growing and services. Among the completed and operating projects are Xekaman 1 hydropower plant, Muong Thanh Vientiane Hotel, Crown Plaza and Viettel Laos.

Two new projects worth 12.81 million USD were approved in 2017, and eight others with total capital of 95 million USD were licensed in 2018.

The two sides have implemented a new bilateral trade agreement, a border trade deal and a revised protocol on goods transit, among others, while launching the “one door-one stop” at Lao Bao-Densavanh border gate.

Last year, two-way trade hit nearly 1 billion USD. Vietnam imported beverages, wood, mineral products and agricultural products from Laos, while exporting oil and gas, fertiliser, steel, machines, electric equipment, construction materials and spare parts to the neighbouring country.

The Ministries of Transport of Vietnam and Laos signed a cooperation agreement for 2016-2020, while conducting transport connection projects within bilateral and sub-regional cooperation frameworks. Vietnam and Laos have collaborated in implementing two major projects, namely the Hanoi-Vientiane expressway with a length of about 725km and the Vung Ang-Tan Ap-Mu Gia-Thakhaek-Vientiane railway.

The two ministries have also signed a memorandum of understanding on developing three wharfs at Vung Ang port, while speeding up the construction of Nongkhang airport in Houaphan province of Laos so the project can be completed in 2019 as scheduled.

In terms of education and training, the Ministry of Education and Training of Vietnam has handed over Vietnamese language textbooks from 1st to 12th grades to Laos, which is being piloted in Nguyen Du school.

Vietnam has sent Vietnamese teachers to 28 establishments in 11 cities and provinces of Laos, while supporting Laos in designing six education-training works.

In 2018, Vietnam granted 1,271 scholarships to Lao officials and students. So far, 14,686 Lao students have studied in Vietnam, and 260 Vietnamese are studying in Laos. Vietnam has also held 24 short-term courses for 497 management officials of Laos.

Bilateral ties between localities, especially those along the shared border, have also been expanded, especially in infrastructure, healthcare, personnel training, poverty reduction and security.

The upcoming visit of General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam and President Nguyen Phu Trong to Laos from February 24-25, his first trip abroad in his new positions as the top leader of the both Party and State, aims to strengthen the traditional friendship, special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation between the two countries, while affirming Vietnam’s policy of treasuring and prioritizing its ties with Laos.

This is a chance for the two sides to discuss cooperation plans and measures to enhance the quality and efficiency of the Vietnam-Laos relations in all spheres.

Through the visit, Party General Secretary and President Nguyen Phu Trong affirms Vietnam’s comprehensive support to Laos’ reform cause, national defence and construction, as well as the implementation of targets set by the 10th Congress of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party.-VNA