ASEM Summit brings great benefits to Laos

Vientiane (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The recent 9th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM 9) Summit creates a new record in Laos' political history, and with many new bilateral agreements between Laos and other ASEM member countries complete.

Laos signed at least 18 agreements and Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with other countries during the course of the two-day summit.

The agreements and MoUs cover a wide range of topics, including agreements on financial assistance for various development projects, cooperation agreements on a Laos-China railway and a rail project from Savannakhet province to the Laos-Vietnam border, as well as MoUs between Laos' Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the ministries of other countries.

Many bilateral meetings also took place, as Lao leaders met their foreign counterparts to discuss ways to deepen relations and cooperation.

The 9th ASEM Summit was the biggest international conference that Laos has ever hosted.

Director General of the Protocol Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pasith Sayasith, told the Vientiane Times yesterday this was a major historic event as the Lao president has never before welcomed so many heads of state and government on one occasion.

During the summit, eight heads of state and eight prime ministers of ASEM member countries visited or paid courtesy calls to Lao President Choummaly Sayasone.

Three prime ministers and one president also made official visits to Laos, marking an important milestone in the country's political journey.

The three prime ministers were Wen Jiabao of China, Yoshihiko Noda of Japan, and Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh, along with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

The Lao government believes the event will benefit Laos politically, economically and culturally.

Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong announced at a press conference after the close of the meeting that hosting the summit had raised Laos' profile internationally.

"It has been a historic event for our country. In no era has Laos ever gathered so many leaders from Asia and Europe to convene in our country."

The event would enhance the trust of the international community in the Party, government and people of Laos, he added.

The summit was attended by 11 heads of state, 21 heads of government, one deputy prime minister, 12 ministers, four deputy ministers and three ambassadors.

Bangladesh, Norway and Switzerland were officially accepted as ASEM members at the opening of the summit on November 5, bringing the total number of ASEM members to 51.

The summit adopted two documents - the ASEM Chairman's Statement and the Vientiane Declaration on Strengthening Partnership for Peace and Development.

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