Aleksandr Lukashenko meets with Laos President Choummaly Sayasone in Minsk

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Belarus is ready to expand cooperation with Laos in various fields, Belarusian leader Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with President of Laos Choummaly Sayasone in Minsk on 1 July.

The Belarusian head of state remarked that in today's globalizing world the geographic remoteness of countries is no longer an issue. “Today such distances are covered very quickly. So we do not need to blame thousands of kilometers between Belarus and Laos but get down to work. Experts and ministers have outlined the ways of our cooperation. We need to move more rapidly on this,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The President of Belarus said that the trade between the countries is quite small, and therefore there is a need for increased cooperation in all areas. “There is a serious basis for that. The Belarusians are well aware of the heroic struggle of the Lao people for independence. We have very warm feelings towards your country. On this basis, we should build the trade and economic cooperation,” the Belarusian head of state said.

Apart from that, Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed out good prospects for cooperation in science and education, military and technical cooperation and other areas of interest to the Lao government and society.

“Belarusian companies and the Belarusian economy as a whole have a strong interest in the presence in Laos. You are an active participant in the Asia-Pacific economic cooperation, and we strongly hope that we can together, through our joint ventures in Laos, trade freely in this vast region,” the Belarusian President noted. “I hope that in the next year or two we will be able to set up a joint venture to produce equipment necessary for Laos and for your neighbors,” he added.

The Belarusian head of state said that Belarus is ready to deliver necessary equipment to Laos, in particular for the development of agriculture. In part of military and technical cooperation, Belarus can secure supplies and provide repair services for the equipment that has remained in Laos since the days of the Soviet Union. "In this regard we have some experience and are ready to further develop and support it," the Belarusian President said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also said that Belarus is ready to participate in mining projects in Laos: "We are ready to assist you in creating the basis for scientific research and surveying of your mineral deposits. We are also prepared, if there is interest, to engage in mining projects in Laos”.

Humanitarian cooperation was also on the agenda. “Projects will not be implemented if there are not a sufficient number of specialists. Therefore, in the field of humanitarian cooperation you do right by giving priority attention to training. Belarus will provide full support in terms of training of both military and civilian personnel,” Aleksandr Lukashenko assured.

After the negotiations the Belarusian head of state stressed that Belarus is committed to productive cooperation with Laos. “We view Laos as an important partner in Southeast Asia and are keen on promoting most constructive and efficient cooperation with this country. There are things we can offer to each other,” the President said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that Belarus has an advanced manufacturing industry and agriculture, which are the sectors Laos seeks to promote. Laos, in turn, is rich in minerals. “This makes our economies complementary. Therefore, we suggested bolstering cooperation in all the areas, including in the establishment of joint ventures to assemble Belarusian machinery that will be in demand on the market of Laos, the neighboring states and the entire Asia-Pacific region. The President of Laos agreed with that,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The Belarusian head of state thanked Laos for the efforts to support Belarus in international organizations. “We also uphold Laos and will keep doing it,” he said. The President of Belarus stated that the two countries have similar views on all the issues of the international agenda.

“Although we have gained some experience in certain areas of cooperation, we are just at the very beginning of our way. We still have to do a lot to advance our relations to the highest level. We in Belarus are determined to do everything to foster bilateral trade and intensify our political and diplomatic contacts,” the head of state said.

For his part, Laos President Choummaly Sayasone stressed that Laos views Belarus as a close friend. He praised the economic development and improved well-being of the people of Belarus.

“We had a substantial talk and shared our ideas. The meeting took place in a friendly atmosphere and bore fruit. In the future we must enhance cooperation between the two countries,” Choummaly Sayasone said.

According to the President of Laos, the talks focused on the efforts to expand trade and economic cooperation, on fostering ties at the level of regional authorities and parliaments, on mutual support in the international arena. “I am convinced that the attention that the two sides draw to the development of cooperation will produce good results and will generate benefits for the states,” the President of Laos said.

Choummaly Sayasone also invited Aleksandr Lukashenko to make an official visit to Laos.

At the meeting the parties signed a package of documents concerning the development of cooperation in various areas. One of them is the agreement on friendly relations and cooperation between the Republic of Belarus and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. The document was signed by the two presidents.

Apart from that, Belarus and Laos signed intergovernmental agreements on visa-free trips for the holders of diplomatic and service passports, the agreement on promotion and mutual protection of investments, the agreement on avoiding double taxation and preventing income tax evasion, the agreement on scientific, technical and education cooperation.

According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, the signing of the agreement on friendly relations will give a nudge to all-round mutual cooperation which runs the gamut from humanitarian to the political one. The intergovernmental agreements will shape the legal framework of bilateral cooperation and will be the basis for future contracts in specific areas of cooperation.

Aleksandr Lukashenko and Choummaly Sayasone also made a joint statement. The sides expressed satisfaction with constructive and increasingly vibrant political dialogue at the top and high level. The heads of state pointed out good prospects for the development of bilateral relations and mutually beneficial cooperation, confirmed their intention to advance Belarus-Laos cooperation to a brand-new level and highlighted the importance of mutual support in the international arena.

“The parties confirmed mutual recognition of the market status of the economies of Belarus and Laos. Laos supports Belarus’ intention to enter the World Trade Organization,” the joint statement reads.

The two leaders emphasized a considerable potential in economic cooperation and took note of the need to develop contacts between economic entities with the purpose of reaching a qualitatively new level of the Belarus-Laos trade and economic relations.

The Presidents also confirmed readiness for increasing mutual trade, expanding cooperation in mechanical engineering, agriculture and food industry, mining operations, petrochemistry, pharmaceutical industry.

The leaders agreed on mutual participation of Belarusian and Lao companies in the state programs of the two countries. Aleksandr Lukashenko and Choummaly Sayasone also praised the establishment of a joint intergovernmental commission for bilateral cooperation and expressed confidence that the commission would become an effective mechanism in fostering all-round cooperation between Belarus and Laos.

The heads of state deemed it necessary to enhance and intensify cooperation in science, education, healthcare, culture and tourism.

In the joint statement the parties underlined that they share views on the solution of the key problems of the world development, and spoke in favor of a just international order based on respect for international law, equality and mutual respect. The statement stressed the primacy of the United Nations as a universal international organization in the formation of a multi-polar world and the understanding of the importance of continued close cooperation within the framework of the United Nations and other international organizations. “The parties expressed strong non-acceptance of the attempts to interfere with the internal affairs of sovereign states under any pretext, not in conformity with the goals and principles of the UN Charter. The parties agreed to cooperate actively in the international arena on the issue of human rights and oppose the attempts to use human rights as a means of political pressure on the parties, including within the framework of the United Nations,” the joint statement runs.

The heads of state also reaffirmed their commitment to cooperating in the fight against new threats and challenges. It was stressed that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international stability and security. The fight against terrorism must be fought without double standards.

Laos praised Belarus’ intention to boost relations with Southeast Asia both in the bilateral arena and within the framework of the ACEAN and expressed eagerness to help Belarus gain a foothold in the region.