Lao PDR, Australia Strengthening Cooperation

Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Lao PDR, Mr Thongphane Savanphet, and Deputy Secretary of the Southeast Asia and Global Partners Group of Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Michelle Chan, co-chaired the 15th Lao PDR – Australia Senior Officials’ Talks in Vientiane on March 16.

Prior to the meeting, Deputy Secretary Chan also met Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Saleumxay Kommasith.

Discussions highlighted the deep and enduring relations between the two countries, their genuine partnership, and the strong bilateral and regional cooperation. They reaffirmed the Lao PDR and Australia’s commitment to elevate the bilateral relationship to the level of a Comprehensive Partnership – as expressed by leaders in November 2022.

They discussed ways to deepen cooperation through a ‘Comprehensive Partnership’ and undertook to prepare a Joint Declaration and a Plan of Action for consideration by Prime Ministers.

Vice Minister Thongphane and Deputy Secretary Chan exchanged perspectives on regional and international issues. They agreed on the importance of an open, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific region where sovereignty was respected; ASEAN centrality; and the ASEAN-led regional architecture. They agreed on the importance of adhering to the principles of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific and to supporting its practical implementation. They acknowledged the profound changes underway in the region and agreed to navigate these changes together.

Deputy Secretary Chan acknowledged the Lao PDR’s resilience through COVID-19 and associated economic challenges, and reiterated Australia’s commitment to provide capacity building and technical assistance in support of the Lao PDR’s economic resilience.

Through the ‘Mekong-Australia Partnership’ and ‘Partnerships for Infrastructure’ initiatives, the development partnership has expanded to include support for public financial management, energy transition, transport connectivity and transboundary cooperation.

Deputy Secretary Chan thanked the Lao PDR for its active role as Country Coordinator for ASEAN-Australia Dialogue Relations. She reaffirmed Australia’s support for the Lao PDR as it prepared to chair ASEAN in 2024, including through the provision of interpreter and translation training. She looked forward to marking the 50th anniversary of ASEAN-Australia Dialogue Relations during the Lao PDR’s ASEAN Chair year.

Vice Minister Thongphane and Deputy Secretary Chan will also co-chair the ASEAN-Australia Forum on 17 March in Vientiane. The Forum will discuss ASEAN and Australia’s shared commitment to implementing the ASEAN-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

Deputy Secretary Chan also visited the Thanaleng Dry Port to better understand the Lao Government’s connectivity agenda and the potential for greater ASEAN economic integration. The Australian Border Force is supporting Lao customs officials with training on cargo targeting and inspection at the dry port.

Source: Lao News Agency

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