Thailand to aid infrastructure in Laos

Thailand has pledged its support to assist Laos in its efforts to transform from a land-locked to a land-linked country. This support includes contributing to the development of infrastructure projects and facilitating access to low-interest loans. The commitment was made during discussions led by the Thai Prime Minister, who visited Vientiane for talks with his Laotian counterpart covering various aspects of bilateral cooperation, including trade, logistics, tourism, and development.

The Thai government spokesperson, Chai Watcharonke, emphasised the importance of economic cooperation between Thailand and Laos. The goal is to create a mutually beneficial growth area in the northeastern region of both countries, and there are plans to enhance bilateral trade to reach approximately $11 billion annually within the next two years.

Regarding rail connectivity between the two nations, it was stressed that negotiations should be expedited for the construction of a new bridge across the Mekong River, connecting Thailand’s Nong Khai with the Laotian capital. Additionally, there was a call for a swift conclusion of a technical agreement for the train service between the Thanaleng and Vientiane stations in Laos.

Both leaders expressed satisfaction with the progress made in the construction of the 5th Friendship Bridge across the Mekong River, linking Thailand’s Boeng Karn province with Laos’s Bolikhamsai province. They also agreed to work on building the 6th Friendship Bridge, which will link Ubon Ratchathani with Salavan in Laos. Furthermore, plans include developing Highway 12, which will connect Nakhon Phanom with Thakhek, Bolikhamsai, and Quang Binh province in Vietnam.

Laos was urged to promptly establish handling charges for Thai goods at Vientiane Logistics Park to facilitate the planning of rail exports from Thailand to Laos.

The two prime ministers also reached an agreement on a joint action plan, involving Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar, to address the issue of cross-border air pollution caused by forest fires. Thailand will provide support in creating fire risk maps and providing technical training for officials from Laos and Myanmar.

Following their discussions, the two leaders witnessed the signing of two memoranda of understanding, one concerning cultural exchange and the other related to technical assistance for capacity building in locomotive driving and ticketing systems, as well as the development of a business model for the Lao National Railway. Other initiatives included the establishment of a friendship botanical park to commemorate the 70th anniversary of bilateral relations between Thailand and Laos and the delivery of an agricultural training center in Attapeu.

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