Vietnam – Laos great friendship further developed hinh anh 1Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Lao counterpart Thongloun Sisoulith meet at the 30th anniversary of ASEAN-RoK dialogue relations in the Republic of Korea in November 2019. (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) –
Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith is set to lead a high-ranking delegation of the Lao government to visit Vietnam and co-chair the 42nd meeting of the Vietnam – Laos Inter-Governmental Committee in Hanoi from January 2-4.

The organisation of the meeting affirms both nations’ priority to promote the Vietnam – Laos great friendship, special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation. Besides, it aims to promote mutual political trust, as well as form a channel to accelerate the implementation of high-level agreements, contributing to fostering the bilateral cooperation in the time ahead.

Vietnam – Laos special solidarity

Vietnam and Laos boast a long-standing special solidarity and faithful relationship nurtured by late Presidents Ho Chi Minh, Kaysone Phomvihane and Souphanouvong, and generations of the two countries’ leaders and people.

Over the past years, the two sides have been unceasingly consolidating and developing the great friendship, special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation between the two Parties, States and peoples, considering these as important factors of the success of each country’s national development and defence.

Bilateral political and diplomatic ties have continued to be reinforced, as seen through mutual visits at all levels. By the end of August, the countries had exchanged more than 120 delegations, about 60 of which were at the deputy ministerial or higher levels. Both sides sucessfully organised the 41st meeting of the inter-governmental committee co-chaired by the two prime ministers.

Cooperation in defence, security and diplomacy has continued to record new development. The two countries have actively implemented the five-year cooperation protocol and annual defence – security cooperation plans, helping to ensure political stability, security and social order and safety in each nation. They have also effectively carried out the agreement on border regulations and the one on settling irregular migration and undocumented marriage in their border areas.

Additionally, both sides have continued working together to search for and repatriate the remains of Vietnam’s volunteer soldiers and experts who laid down their lives in Laos during wartime. The two sides are accelerating the implementation of the second phase of the project on the construction of the Vietnam-Laos combat alliance monument in the Lao province of Xaysomboun.

The countries have also coordinated closely and supported each other at regional and international forums. They have further enhanced cooperation with each other and other ASEAN members in building the ASEAN Community and maintaining the bloc’s solidarity and consensus in the strategic issues of the region, including the East Sea issue.

Laos strongly supported Vietnam’s bid for a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council and holding of the ASEAN Chairmanship in 2020.

Both have coordinated closely with other nations and relevant international organisations to manage and use the Mekong River’s water resources in a sustainable and effective manner.

Fruitful cooperation in sectors

Vietnam and Laos have witnessed robust cooperation in economy, culture, education-training and science-technique in the past years.

Despite global economic downturn, they attained 940 million USD in two-way trade during January-October of 2019, and the figure is projected to top 1.1 – 1.2 billion USD for the whole year, surpassing the set target of 1 billion USD.

Vietnam remains the third largest foreign investor in Laos. Vietnamese businesses have to date invested 4.22 billion USD in 413 projects in Laos, mainly in hydropower, mining, services, agriculture and telecom.

Besides, Vietnam provides 3.25 trillion VND (140 million USD) in non-refundable aid for Laos each year during 2016-2020. From the outset of 2019, Vietnam sent 300 tonnes of rice seedlings to Lao farmers to recover production after natural disasters.

Additionally, cooperation in education – training and culture has continued to receive attention. The two sides have effectively implemented the project on improving the quality and effectiveness of bilateral ties in education and human resources development for 2011 – 2020.

In 2018, Vietnam provided 1,271 scholarships for Laos, up 271 from the two governments’ decision, and Laos gave 60 scholarships to Vietnam. There are 14,656 Lao students in Vietnam, which also has 260 students in Laos at present.

Vietnam has opened 24 short-term refresher courses for 497 Lao cadres in different fields and sent teachers of Vietnamese language to 28 educational establishments across Laos.

Cultural exchange and tourism promotion activities have also been stepped up at all levels, helping to deepen mutual understanding between the two peoples.

Additionally, links between Vietnamese and Lao localities, especially the border ones, have been further strengthened, including in infrastructure building, health care, human resources development, and border security ensuring.

The two sides have created more favourable conditions for the Vietnamese and Lao communities in the other country. Associations of Vietnamese people have been set up in 12 of the 18 provinces and cities of Laos so far./.