On the last leg of his crucial visit to Cambodia and Laos, Vice President Md. Hamid Ansari on Thursday held talks with the top Laotian leadership at the capital city of Vientiane, signing two significant pacts. The Vice President’s two-nation visit assumed significance in the light of India’s bid to broaden the bilateral trade and strengthen its economic engagement with ASEAN nations as a part of its ‘Act East Policy’.
Two MoUs were signed, including one on “quick impact projects” and another on air services between India and Laos.
VP Hamid Ansari arrived in Laos on Thursday for a two-day visit, the first by an Indian Vice President to this country, after concluding a fruitful visit to Cambodia. During his stay, the Vice President held talks with his counterpart Bounnhang Vorachith at the presidential palace after which delegation-level parleys took place.
“As opportunities open up, more and more people will come and show the quality that India has to offer in terms of the new areas of expertise and this is where we want to build a solid relationship with each one of the members of the ASEAN fraternity with other Asian countries, with all parts of the world,” VP Hamid Ansari had said while addressing Indian community in the Laos capital city of Vientiane earlier on Thursday.
The Vice President also called on Laos President Choummaly Sayasone and met Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong. The Vice President, who was given a ceremonial welcome this morning at the presidential palace, also laid a wreath at the Soldiers’ Monument built to commemorate Laos’ heroes.
Earlier, addressing an Indian Community Reception hosted in his honour by Indian Ambassador in Lao PDR, Ravi Shankar Aisola at Vientiane, Vice President Ansari said, “We have engaged with Lao PDR for a very long time. It has been a good trouble-free relationship. It is a small country but small countries also have a place under the Sun and we in India have been very conscious of it.”
Highlighting the importance of his two-nation visit, Vice President Ansari said that his trip to the Southeast Asian country should be seen as part of a chain of high-level visits.
“Prime Ministers have come here, Presidents have come here and therefore please see this visit as part of a chain of high-level visits that we in government undertake consciously, deliberately with certain purpose,” Mr Ansari said, terming Lao PDR as a close friend.
During his visit, the Vice President also visited the That Luang Stupa, which has a relic from Buddha that was brought from India in the 2nd century BC.
“This sacred Stupa, Laos’ National symbol is a testament of the strong bonds of friendship and cooperation that exist between our two countries. Our destinies were linked with the ancient past and will continue to be linked and flourish in the distant future,” VP Hamid Ansari wrote in the visitors’ book at the shrine.
(With inputs from the PTI)