HIS Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday received in audience Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) Prime Minister Dr Thongloun Sisoulith in an audience ceremony held at Cheradi Laila Kenchana of Istana Nurul Iman.
Prior to the audience ceremony, His Majesty welcomed Dr Thongloun Sisoulith on arrival at Istana Nurul Iman, and introduced him to members of the royal family.
His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office; His Royal Highness Prince ‘Abdul Malik; His Royal Highness Prince ‘Abdul Mateen; His Royal Highness Prince ‘Abdul Wakeel; His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah; His Royal Highness Prince Haji Sufri Bolkiah; and Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Masna, Ambassador-at-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were present at the ceremony.
Accompanying the Lao Prime Minister were Minister of Foreign Affairs Saleumxay Kommasith, Minister and Head of the Prime Minister’s Office Dr Phet Phomphiphak, Minister of Education and Sports Sengdeuane Lachanthaboune, Minister of Industry and Commerce Khemmani Pholsena and Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office Alounkeo Kittikhoun.
Minister of Defence II Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Awang Halbi bin Haji Mohd Yussof as the Minister-in-Attendance and Ambassador of Brunei Darussalam to the Lao PDR Haji Na’aim bin Haji Mohd Salleh were also present.
Following the audience ceremony, His Majesty held a bilateral meeting with Dr Thongloun Sisoulith at Baitul Mesyuarah, during which both leaders exchanged views on bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual concern.
In a joint statement between Brunei Darussalam and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic made after the meeting, His Majesty welcomed the “timely visit” of Dr Thongloun Sisoulith on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Brunei Darussalam and the Lao PDR, which he noted “marked an important milestone in the close bilateral relations between the two countries”.
Both leaders acknowledged the existing close and friendly ties enjoyed by Brunei and the Lao PDR, and reiterated their commitment to further enhancing the two countries’ friendship for their mutual benefit, also acknowledging that continuous efforts are ongoing to strengthen and diversify existing cooperation.
The leaders welcomed efforts made to enhance bilateral trade – including initiatives to facilitate information sharing and explore potential collaborations between the business communities of the two countries – and strengthen cooperation in the field of sports and education, of which both leaders agreed will serve to encourage academic exchanges and promote collaboration in areas of mutual interest.
The education cooperation was solidified with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the field of education between the Government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and the Government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic following the bilateral meeting, which was witnessed by His Majesty and Dr Thongloun Sisoulith.
His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah was also present to witness the signing.
Signing on behalf of the Government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam was Minister of Education Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Hamzah bin Haji Sulaiman.
Minister of Education and Sports of Lao PDR Sengdeuane Lachanthaboune signed on behalf of her country.
In the joint statement, His Majesty and Dr Thongloun Sisoulith also welcomed progress made with regard to the implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) as well as the South China Sea Code of Conduct (COC) negotiations.
To this end, both leaders encouraged bilateral exchanges carried out under the Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation, established in 1999.
The leaders agreed as well to encourage frequent high-level exchanges, and to make good use of bilateral mechanisms to coordinate and enhance bilateral cooperation in various areas.
They welcomed the convening of the 2nd Brunei Darussalam-Lao PDR Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation held in Luang Prabang, Lao PDR on June 6 last year, stating that they look forward to the third meeting which will be held in Brunei Darussalam in the near future.
Both leaders welcomed the efforts to enhance bilateral trade and encourage their businesspeople to actively tap into business opportunities.
In this regard, they welcomed the signing of the MoU in information sharing between the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry Brunei Darussalam and the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as an initiative to facilitate information sharing and explore potential collaborations between business communities of the two countries.
Both leaders stated that their respective countries looked forward to exploring collaboration in the areas of agriculture, energy, petroleum, tourism and industries.
Dr Thongloun Sisoulith expressed his sincere gratitude to the government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam for its continued support and assistance in their human resource capacity-building and infrastructure development as well as humanitarian assistance, including the financial assistance rendered following the recent extensive flooding in the southern part of Laos.
The leaders acknowledged the importance of upholding ASEAN centrality towards safeguarding and securing ASEAN’s interests, particularly with regard to the peace, stability and prosperity of the region.
Prime Minister Dr Thongloun Sisoulith expressed his deepest gratitude to His Majesty as well as the Government and people of Brunei Darussalam for the warm welcome and generous hospitality accorded to him and his delegation throughout their visit.
Dr Thongloun Sisoulith also conveyed an invitation from Lao PDR President Bounnhang Vorachith to His Majesty to visit the Lao PDR at a mutually convenient date.