Canada has opened a diplomatic office in Vientiane in an effort to boost economic and political ties with Laos.
Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Stéphane Dion led the opening ceremony held on Monday at the Australian Embassy, which will be the home of the Canadian office.
“The opening of the office marks a new stage in Canadian -Lao relations but Laos-Canada connections go back a long way,” said a statement in a document commemorating Canada’s participation in the 1954 Geneva Accords that ended the first Indochina war.
Canadians were also members of the International Control Commission and were stationed in Vientiane.
In his remarks at the opening ceremony Minister Dion said “I want to officially open this diplomatic office of the government of Canada that will prove that Canada is in Laos and will stay in Laos to reinforce the friendship between Canada and Laos. Canada will remain in Laos!”
“This office that we are opening, this presence that we are inaugurating today is the beginning of something, the beginning of a deeper, stronger relationship between Canada and Laos in order to create jobs, opportunities, and investments,” he added.
Laos and Canada established diplomatic relations on June 15, 1974, with the Canadian Embassy to Laos based in Bangkok, Thailand.
The connections made in those early years sparked the growth in ties, especially through an active scholarship programme that saw many Lao students study in Canadian universities and return to Laos to contribute to the development of the country.
Canadian assistance to Laos, including clinics and medical centres in remote villages, has helped to improve the health of many Lao people and has helped to reduce infant mortality.
Canada has also contributed to the clearing of UXO, UXO education and the rehabilitation of people injured by unexploded devices, as well as supporting research into key sectors of the economy, including agriculture and SME support.
Talking to Vientiane Times at the opening ceremony, Minister Dion said Canada enjoys its relationship with Laos and wants to improve on that friendship.
“This is really the will of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who wants to show that Canada and Laos will be working together,” he said.
When asked about possible areas of cooperation the Minister mentioned electricity, mining, communications, environment, clean technologies, and clean sources of energy, which he said Canada was all very fond of and that it would do its best to pursue through the new diplomatic office.
With regard to Laos’ membership in ASEAN, Mr Dion noted Canada’s willingness to be a part of the East Asia Summit, which he said would help Canada to have a stronger presence in the region by supporting better conditions for partnerships with all ASEAN members, including Laos.
Source: Vientiane Times