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Laos and Australia Celebrate 65 Years of Diplomatic Relations

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Laos and Australia celebrated 65 years of diplomatic relations on Thursday at the Australian Embassy in Vientiane Capital.

The close ties between Laos and Australia, and between the peoples of the two countries, are the supporting pillars of cooperation between the two nations.

Lao Minister of Foreign Affairs Saleumxay Kommasith and Australian Ambassador to Laos John Williams expressed this common view when speaking at a ceremony held on Thursday at the Australian Embassy in Vientiane to mark the 65th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

“Looking back over six and a half decades of relations, we have witnessed tremendous progress in our bilateral cooperation,” Mr Saleumxay said.

He highlighted the first Friendship Bridge built in Laos across the Mekong River as one of the most visible landmarks of bilateral cooperation. When the bridge opened in 1994, former Prime Minister Paul Keating of Australia, Lao Prime Minister Khamtay Siphandone, and Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai of the Kingdom of Thailand attended the inauguration ceremony.

In other areas, exchange visits by various high-level Lao and Australian officials, civil servants, academics, and businesspeople, have also been testimony to the success of bilateral relations over the past six and a half decades.

Mr Saleumxay also said that regular visits and exchanges between the citizens of both nations had been a significant contribution to creating a conducive environment for mutual understanding, and promoting and enhancing bilateral cooperation in various fields. On behalf of the Lao government, he thanked the government of Australia for its continued support to the Lao government’s effort to advance socio-economic development over the past decades, especially in the areas of education, human resource development, and humanitarian assistance.

“This has significantly contributed to the attainment of national development goals and poverty reduction in Laos,” Mr Saleumxay said.

In addition, more than 1,200 Lao nationals have graduated from Australian institutions and gained a high quality of education. These graduates not only contributed to the socio-economic development of Laos, but also promoted bilateral ties with Australia, and constituted an important factor in strengthening the bond between the Lao and Australian peoples, he added.

Laos and Australia established diplomatic relations on January 16, 1952.

Australian investments in Laos have increased in recent decades and now amount to US$150 million with Australia ranking in the top 20 foreign investors in Laos.

For his part, Ambassador Williams spoke of the close and productive links between Australia and Laos, which he said enjoyed cooperation in many fields. He said these relations were not simply architecture put in place by the two governments, but a million contacts and networks of collaboration between the peoples of the two countries across many areas of life frameworks.

Thursday’s event also marked the 229th anniversary of the Commonwealth of Australia and featured a ceremony to award Lao and Australian individuals who had made an outstanding contribution to the friendship and cooperation between the two nations.

Source: Vientiane Times

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