President Choummaly Saya-sone began a three-day state visit to Brunei Darussalam on Monday with the aim of further strengthening cooperation between the two countries.
The visit by President Choummaly comes in response to an invitation from His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei Darussalam.
During Monday meetings, President Choummaly and Brunei officials informed each other about achievements in social and economic development and future plans in their respective nations, according to a press release from the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Both sides agreed to expand their relations, friendship and cooperation, and to support each other at Asean and United Nations meetings and in the international arena.
Both countries agreed to continue exchange visits by high-ranking officials and further strengthen cooperation in economics, trade and investment, including encouraging investors from Brunei to operate in Laos.
According to a Brunei Times report yesterday, President Choummaly commended the sultan, citing Brunei's achievements since independence and its reputation in the diplomatic arena.
"The Lao people have watched the evolution of Brunei's development over the past 26 years and have observed that since independence Brunei Darussalam has achieved great socio-economic development under the safeguard of Your Majesty," President Choummaly said.
President Choummaly noted that Brunei's citizens enjoy high standards of living and well-being that are often praised by foreign countries.
"Parallel to this development, Brunei has opened cooperation with foreign countries, and actively participates in the Non-Aligned Movement, Group of 77, in the framework of Asean, and other regional and international groups," he said.
"This highlights the reputation, role and increasing influence of Brunei Darussalam in the regional and international arena."
His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah hosted a state banquet in honour of President Choummaly, where he pledged to continue to support Laos' bid for membership in the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
"We will continue to give our full support for your country's accession to the WTO," he said.
The sultan thanked the Lao government and people for contributing to the development of Asean and its programmes and activities.
He said Brunei welcomes "every opportunity to work together" with its regional partners, in order to reach the specific target dates for Asean economic integration and the broader objectives envisioned in the plans for Asean connectivity as well as the building of an Asean Community.
The sultan also highlighted that, through Asean, Brunei and Laos have enjoyed cordial ties and underscored that both countries had learned of each other's history, culture, way of life and aspirations for the future.
The Brunei leader also spoke of his admiration for Laos' strong support for Southeast Asian culture, sport and the conservation of the region's arts and classical heritage.
President Choummaly, the first Lao president to visit Brunei Darussalam, was welcomed by some 2,500 schoolchildren who lined the streets leading up to Istana Nurul Iman waving Lao and Brunei flags.
It is anticipated that during the visit, Laos is to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on culture and sports cooperation with Brunei.
President Choummaly is scheduled to visit Kuala Belait and the Brunei Shell Petroleum facilities during his visit.
-- Vientiane Times