Japan provides 10.46B yen aid to Laos for infrastructure projects
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan announced Sunday it will provide Laos with an aid package worth 10.46 billion yen to help the Southeast Asian country build infrastructure.
"I hope that our aid will contribute greatly to Laos' economic development," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at a joint press conference with Laotian Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong after their talks at Abe's office.
While Southeast Asia is recognized as a center of growth, financial disparities in the region remain between the more developed states such as Singapore and less developed ones including Laos.
The signing of an estimated 9.5 billion yen loan agreement, along with more than 900 million yen in grants, was done in the presence of the two prime ministers.
The yen loans will be disbursed to a project to expand the international airport terminal in the capital Vientiane and another project to support poverty reduction, Japan's Foreign Ministry said.
The grants will partly help in a bridge construction initiative in the southern part of Laos, the ministry said.
To further boost their economic ties, Abe and Thongsing said they agreed to launch official consultations to conclude an aviation pact that will pave the way for direct flights.
The leaders also agreed to continue their talks to launch a security dialogue framework involving their nations' foreign and defense officials, a move that Abe said "aims to strengthen our countries' communication in political and security issues."
They also agreed to boost people-to-people exchanges as their countries mark in 2015 the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.
"We will further enhance our partnership and cooperation and work toward regional peace and prosperity," Thongsing said at the news conference after their meeting.
Abe visited Laos last month as part of his 10-nation tour to all ASEAN nations after just 11 months in office to demonstrate Japan's engagement with the fast-growing, resource-rich region.
Apart from Laos, the nine other ASEAN members are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.