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August 7, 2008

Kuwait shows interest in Lao agriculture
Kuwait are interested in investing in Laos’ energy and agriculture sectors as part of the oil-rich country’s push to find new investment opportunities in Asia, said Deutsche Presse Agentur on Wednesday.

The German news agency quoted a Laotian foreign ministry official as saying that Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammed al-Sabah, who is on a regional tour of Asia, met with his Lao counterpart Bouasone Bouphavanh on Tuesday.

The two prime ministers agreed to pursue means of boosting cooperation in energy and agriculture while Laos promised to find an appropriate site for Kuwait to set up an embassy in its capital Vientiane, said Lao Foreign Ministry spokesman Yong Chanthalangsy said.

“Kuwait thinks Laos has great potential in agriculture, especially in rice plantations,” Yong said in a telephone interview.

The Kuwaiti premier expressed similar interests in Cambodia, which he visited before Laos.

In Cambodia, Kuwait proposed to exchange agricultural technology for a large area of land to grow food, probably rice, for export to the Gulf state.

Kuwait is oil-rich but largely covered in desert, making it difficult to grow enough food for its 2 million-plus residents.

Another Gulf state, Qatar, also made overtures along the same lines when its Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabor al-Thani visited Cambodia in March, and there are rumours that others in that region may follow suit.

“This is a new policy of Kuwait and the Persian Gulf as a whole,” said Yong. “Now they have extra money from oil, so they are looking further a field for investments. This is good for us because we have economic potential but lack capital.”

Communist Laos, one of south-east Asia’s poorest countries, has a land mass half the size of France with a population of about 6 million. The government has made development of agriculture one of its priorities.

The land-locked, mountainous country is rich in hydro-energy but lacks petroleum reserves.

Nasser departed Vientiane Wednesday morning for neighbouring Myanmar. On his Asia tour, the Kuwaiti premier has already visited Brunei, Japan, South Korea, Cambodia and has scheduled a trip to Thailand on August 13 to 14.

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