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NEWS UPDATES 6 October 2010

Laos, China to cooperate in railway construction

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A top Chinese railway official arrived in Vientiane this week for talks with Lao officials on the construction of a railway from the Chinese border to Vientiane.

The railway development project is part of the Kunming-Singapore rail link, which aims to boost trade relations between Asean countries and China after the two parties implemented the Asean-China Free Trade Agreement earlier this year.

Minister for Railways of the People's Republic of China, Mr Liu Zhijun, paid a courtesy visit to President Choummaly Sayasone and Standing Deputy Prime Minister Somsavat Lengsavad upon his arrival in Laos.

He also held talks and signed a memorandum of understanding with his Lao counterpart, Minister of Public Works and Transport Sommath Pholsena, on cooperation in the construction of the railway from the Lao-Chinese border in Luang Namtha province to Vientiane.

Mr. Zhijun and his delegation also visited the Training Centre of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, Thanalaeng train station, Vientiane-Nong Khai Friendship Bridge and the That Luang stupa.

Lao officials involved in the project told Vientiane Times that Laos and China would establish a joint venture to build the railway.

The Lao government plans to provide land as its share in the venture while the Chinese partner will provide funding for construction of the railway. The Chinese government has promised to provide financial support for the joint venture to build the 400km railway.

The officials also said Laos and China are now carrying out a survey for the proposed railway, which they hope to complete before the end of this year.

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