Concluding an all-important two-day visit to Cambodia, Vice President Md. Hamid Ansari arrived in Laos on a two-day visit, the first ever by an Indian Vice President. During his visit to Laos, the Vice President will hold extensive talks with the Laotian leadership to deepen bilateral ties especially trade links as part of India’s Act East policy.
Arriving at the capital city Vientiane, VP Hamid Ansari was received by Vongsavath Boupha, Minister to the President’s Office and India’s Ambassador to Laos, Ravi Shankar Aisola at the Wattay International Airport.
The Vice President is scheduled to hold talks with his Laotian counterpart Bounnhang Vorachith on Friday. He will also call on President Choummaly Sayasone and meet Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong. Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Thongloun Sisoulith and Vice President of the National Assembly Xaysomphone Phomvihane too will be meeting VP Hamid Ansari.
This is not only the first visit to Laos by an Indian Vice President but also the first high-level visit after the trip by former President Pratibha Patil in 2010.
Mr. Ansari will also visit the That Luang Stupa, which is a national symbol.
“India shares deep cultural links with Lao PDR,” Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs, Anil Wadhwa had told the press ahead of the Vice President’s visit.
Highlighting important cultural links between India and Laos, Wadhwa had further said, “Another symbol of very high civilisational links (between India and Laos) is the Vat Phou, a Shiva temple in Champasak province, dating back to the 5th century AD so it predates Angkor Wat.”
“India-Laos commercial ties need to be strengthened because the present bilateral trade is not reflective of our potential. There seems to be a need for an interaction between industry chambers, participation in each other’s exhibition… The Indian private sector will be encouraged by this visit to explore opportunities in Laos,” Secretary (East) Wadhwa said.
“India has extended a total credit-line of USD 165 million over the past decade for infrastructure project which includes transmission lines, equipment for rural electrification, hydro power projects and irrigation schemes,” Wadhwa added further.
The Vice President’s visit will focus on shoring up economic ties between the two countries. Total trade between India and Laos in 2013-2014 was USD 89.29 million.
Earlier, in his crucial two-day visit to Cambodia, Vice President Md. Hamid Ansari held wide-ranging talks with Cambodian Premier Hun Sen discussing host of issues including shoring up of economic ties and conveying India’s decision to support several projects in Cambodia under the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation.
(With inputs from the PTI)