Ho Chi Minh City held a meeting on July 17 to mark 35 years of the signing of the Vietnam-Laos Friendship and Cooperation Treaty and the 50 th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

Attending the event were former President Nguyen Minh Triet; Party Politburo member and Secretary of the HCM City Party Committee Le Thanh Hai; Lao Party Politburo member, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Thongloun Sisoulith; and Secretary of the Lao Party Central Committee, Secretary of the Party Committee and Mayor of Vientiane Soukan Mahalath.

Speaking at the ceremony, Hai said that the Vietnam-Laos, Laos-Vietnam traditional friendship, special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation are an invaluable asset of the two nations fostered by President Ho Chi Minh, President Kaysone Phomvihane and President Souphanouvong as well as generations of Vietnamese and Lao leaders and people.

Together with the ceaseless development of the Vietnam-Laos relations, HCM City has carried out many activities to strengthen and deepen its friendship and cooperation with Lao localities, especially the capital city of Vientiane and Champassak province, he said.

Soukan Mahalath affirmed that despite changes in the region and the world, the special relationship between Laos and Vietnam has continuously progressed in all aspects, bringing interests to both nations.

The Lao Party, Government and people always preserve the special friendship and solidarity between the two countries and will do their utmost to strengthen cooperation between the two Parties and States in general and between Vientiane, Champassak and HCM City in particular.

On the occasion, Thongloun Sisoulith presented the Lao State’s Freedom Order, second class, to the HCM City People’s Council and People’s Committee and three individuals.

On the same day, the Lao and HCM City delegations attended the opening ceremony of an exhibition celebrating the Vietnam-Laos Friendship Year 2012, themed “Sustainable Development of Vietnam-Laos, HCM City-Vientiane-Champassak Friendship”.

Earlier, former President Triet received the Lao delegation, led by Thongloun Sisoulith.

On July 16, a seminar was held in HCM City to promote trade and investment in Laos’ Vientiane capital city and Champassak province.

Speaking at the event, Thongloun Sisoulith highly valued Vietnam’s investment, which he described as an important contribution to the development of Laos , especially Vientiane and Champassak.

He suggested the two sides strengthen examination of cooperative projects as well as discuss measures to perfect investment policies and mechanisms.

The Vientiane leaders expressed the wish that businesses of Vietnam in general and of HCM City in particular will continue investing in Laos, especially in the areas of railway, expressway, airport, 500KW power transmission lines, processing industry and tourism.

The Champassak leaders called on HCM City companies to come to study business and investment opportunities in the province. They vowed to create favourable conditions for the businesses to operate in Champassak.

Two-way trade between Vietnam and Laos reached 734 million USD in 2011, an increase of nearly 50 percent over the previous year. The figure was 135.8 million USD in the first quarter of this year, representing a year-on-year rise of over 66 percent.

The two countries set a target of bringing bilateral trade to 1 billion USD in 2012, 2 billion USD in 2015 and 5 billion USD in 2020.

At present, Vietnam is the second largest investor in Laos with 424 projects worth 3.57 billion USD.-VNA