Closer Brunei, Lao ties
By Azaraimy HH

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam welcomed every opportunity that Brunei and Laos has to work together to reach the specific target dates for Asean Economic Integration.

At the same, His Majesty also assured that Brunei will continue to support the Lao People's Democratic Republic's accession to WTO and wished Laos every success in the country's preparations for the 9th Asem Summit in 2012.

Meanwhile, Choummaly Sayasone, President of Loa People's Democratic Republic lauded the Sultanate of its strong reputation, role and increasing influence in the regional and international arena.

The two leaders spoke during a State Banquet last night at the Istana Nurul Iman on the occasion of President Choummaly Sayasone's State visit to the country.

Also present at the banquet were Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha; Madame Keosaychay; HRH Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office.

Also present were HRH Prince Mohamed Bolkiah; HRH Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah; HRH Prince 'Abdul Malik; HRH Princess Hajah Rashidah Sa'adatul Bolkiah; HRH Princess Hajah Majeedah Nuurul Bolkiah; HRH Princess Hajah Masna; HRH Princess Amal Umi Kalthum Al-Islam and other members of the royal family.

In the titah, His Majesty offered his warmest congratulations to the people of Laos on the 450th Anniversary they are now celebrating of the ancient and beautiful capital city of Vientiane.

His Majesty recalled that Brunei had the honour of hosting the 28th Asean Ministerial Meeting in Bandar Seri Begawan. It was on that occasion, His Majesty said, that the Government of Laos outlined its plans to join Asean.

Two years later, this became a reality.

"And the following year, we had the pleasure of receiving President Sephandone on a State visit," His Majesty recalled.

"Since then, we have no longer been strangers," His Majesty added.

His Majesty said both countries have learned much about each other's history, culture, way of life and aspirations for the future.

"Our bilateral cooperation has covered health, education and practical training," His Majesty said.

"We have had the great pleasure of getting to know each other well," His Majesty stated.

His Majesty expressed Brunei's delight in assisting the people of Laos in reaching their major development targets through the regional IAI programme.

"In other words, we have become very close partners," His Majesty said.

His Majesty also expressed his gratitude to the Laos people for their contribution to the development of the regional association, its programmes and activities.

His Majesty also said, Brunei admires Laos' strong support for Southeast Asian culture, sport and the conservation of the region's unique arts and classical heritage.

Brunei also greatly appreciates Laos' commitment to international causes that go beyond the national and regional borders, the ruler added.

His Majesty wished every success to Laos in hosting of the 9th Asem Summit in 2012, which His Majesty said will be an important meeting for all the member countries in the region and beyond.

"At the same time, we welcome every opportunity we have to work together with our regional partners, in order to reach the specific target dates for Asean Economic Integration and the broader objectives envisioned in our plans for Asean Connectivity and the building of an Asean Community," His Majesty reiterated.

Mr Choummaly Sayasone, in his return speech, expressed his confident in the strengthening of relations between the two countries.

He lauded Brunei's cooperation with foreign countries, as well as Brunei's participation in Non-Aligned Movement, Group of 77 in the framework of Asean, international and other regions. This, he said, highlighted the reputation, role and increasing influence of Brunei in the regional and international arena.

He said, the Laos people have always paid attention to the evolution of Brunei's development and it gives him great pleasure to see that in the past 26 years after independence, Brunei Darussalam has greatly achieved its socio-economic development.

"The Loa People's Democratic Republic and Brunei Darussalam are neighbours, enjoy cordial relations and help each other, the people of both nations have enjoyed amity and friendship which is highly regarded; the leaders of two countries have exchanged visits and met each other regularly on the basis of enhancing mutual understanding and trust," he stated.

Both countries have exchanged views on many issues on the basis of common understanding and unity, he said, adding that Laos was very pleased with the success of the various meetings, which is an essential step to foster friendly relations and cooperation between the two countries; and contribute to the strengthening of peace, stability and cooperation and development in the region and worldwide.

He strongly hoped that both countries will continue to cooperate and assist each other in areas of growing interest for the long-term benefit of the people of our two nations. - Borneo Bulletin (23rd November 2010)