ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Laos, Canada vow to deepen relations, cooperation
Laos and Canada on Monday pledged to take their four decades long relationship and cooperation to new heights for the benefit of both countries, the Lao Foreign Ministry said.
Canada's Foreign Minister John Baird is paying an official visit to Laos the first by such a high-ranking official from the country since the two sides established diplomatic ties in 1974.
Baird's two-day visit, which ends on Tuesday, was in response to an invitation from his Lao counterpart Thongloun Sisoulith.
During talks at the foreign ministry, the ministers said they highly valued their long-standing relations and cooperation over the past four decades.
Both sides agreed to bolster their cooperation more effectively.
The ministers agreed that Laos and Canada are ‘good friends' and have extended mutual assistance and support in the international arena.
Both sides exchanged views on Asean, especially relating to the Asean Economic Community, Asean-Canada relations and cooperation, and the extension of mutual support and cooperation in the regional and international arenas.
Asean and Canada are pursuing their 2012-2015 work plan on cooperation in trade and investment.
Thongloun, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, spoke highly of Baird's visit, saying it represented an important milestone for the enhancement of Laos-Canada relations and cooperation.
The Canadian side pledged to extend further support and assistance to Laos along with increasing cooperation in trade and investment in fields where Laos has high potential.
Several Canadian firms are already active in Laos, working on urban development, and environmental, road construction and healthcare projects, the Canadian government said on its website.
Canadian exports to Laos amounted to US$7.1 million in 2011 - an increase of 153 per cent over the previous year while imports from Laos were valued at US$6.7 million that year.
Laos benefits from duty-free and quota-free access to Canada under the Least-Developed Country preferential tariff regime, according to the website.
Thongloun expressed heartfelt gratitude to Canada for the assistance and support it has extended to Laos, especially in the field of human resource development and the clearance of unexploded ordnance.
The government of Canada provided up to US$1 million in support of UXO clearance operations and risk education activities in 2011 and 2012, the website stated.
Canada and Laos are partners in L'Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, which is dedicated to the goals of promoting peace, cooperation, and sustainable development.
Through the Canadian Francophonie Scholarship Programme, the Canadian International Development Agency provides scholarships to support Lao citizens to pursue undergraduate or graduate degrees taught in French at Canadian universities and colleges.
The links between the two peoples also contribute to the Canada-Laos relationship, the Canadian government website stated.
In the 2006 census, some 20,000 people living in Canada identified themselves as being of Lao origin, it reported.
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