TRAVEL GAZETTE – The possibility of direct flights from Vientiane to Rangon and Luang Prabang to Bagan was discussed as Myanmar’s President U Htin Kyaw met counterpart President of Laos Bounnhang Vorachith in the Lao capital Vientiane.
The two sides confirmed willingness to deepen bilateral ties in trade, investment, education and tourism according to the countries’ Joint Commission for Cooperation framework which vowed to enhance political and security cooperation at its 11th meeting held in Nay Pyi Taw in March last year.
The one-day visit is Htin Kyaw’s first official trip abroad since becoming his country’s head-of-state in March and the first by a foreign head of state to Laos since President Bounnhang assumed office in April.
Accompanied by Myanmar’s State Counselor, Minister of Foreign Affairs Minister to the President’s office and National League for Democracy party leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, President Htin Kyaw and delegation were also received by recently-elected Lao Prime Minister of Laos Thongloun Sisoulith.
Suu Kyi also paid a courtesy visit to the Vice President of the Lao National Assembly, Mr Somphanh Phengkhammy.
The visit follows that to Myanmar by former President of LaosChoummaly Sayasone in December 2013 and the opening of a bridge across the Mekong River in May 2015 linking Myanmar’s Tachileik in eastern Shan state and Laos’ Luang Namtha Province.
Despite their proximity, official statistics show the volume of trade between the two countries remains relatively low in comparison to that with other neighboring states, though are expected to improve in response to investments in regional transport infrastructure and connectivity.
Neighbors in the developing Mekong Sub-region and fellow Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states, the two countries’ bilateral cooperation has focused largely on drug control measures and in joint efforts to ensure security, peace and stability along shared frontiers.
Sharing a border following the course of the Mekong River over a distance of some 230 kilometers, the two countries established diplomatic relations in July 1955.