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Expanding Lao-Hungarian relations

Lao and Hungarian government officials discussed cooperation in development projects between the two countries recently. Laos and Hungary have agreed to boost cooperation in trade, agriculture, education, health, tourism, energy and transport.

A Memorandum of Understanding on further cooperation was signed in Vientiane by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Alounkeo Kittikhoun and his Hungarian counterpart Zsolt Németh. The success of the visit of the Hungarian delegation to Laos is reflected in the signing of this MOU on cooperation between the two ministries of foreign affairs, which will further enhance cooperation in bilateral and multi-lateral frameworks between the two countries.

The Hungarian delegation, headed by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Németh, was in Laos from Nov 27 to 30 and visited the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss cooperation and preparations to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries next year. The two sides also discussed ASEAN-related affairs and the imminent Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM). Hungary hosted the 10th ASEM Ministerial Meeting in June, and Laos is preparing to host next year’s ASEM Summit. Németh also called on Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Thongloun Sisoulith, whose recent official state visit to Hungary has been an important milestone in the relations. Hungary has supported Laos in the development of infrastructure and human resources (including technology and knowledge transfer), agriculture, animal husbandry, and aquaculture. Key focus areas are agriculture and farming, with total commitments of USD 2.85 million in the 2008-2009 fiscal year, and USD 5.50 million in the 2009-2010 fiscal year.

Dr. Sisoulith thanked the Hungarian government for its endorsing the goals of the Southeast Asian nation, and called it a significant contribution to the development of Laos, particularly in agriculture and husbandry. The Hungarian delegation expressed their intention to boost cooperation with Laos in the fields of information and communication technology, infrastructure, clean water, waste recycling, and environmental protection. The delegation also called on National Assembly President Pany Yathortou, and visited Luang Prabang provincial authorities.

The event coincided with the inauguration of the Honorary Consulate of Hungary to Laos in Vientiane. “Our opening of this honorary consulate is about building closer relations between Europe and Asia,” Nemeth said in his remarks at the ceremony. Director of Lao-Foreign Consultant Co., Ltd. Somsavath Khemsouliyajack, who has been in support of Hungarians traveling to the region, was appointed Honorary Consul of Hungary to Laos. Although the number of Hungarians visiting Laos is very small, but since 2007 when Hungary’s Ministry of Rural Development launched projects in Laos, the number of businesspeople, investors and company representatives coming to Laos has increased. She said that in her capacity as a businesswoman she provided consultation services on setting up a business in Laos. “The task of the consulate is to help Hungarian nationals to resolve any problems that may arise. It will be my goal to support the relations between the two countries in all fields,” concluded Khemsouliyajack.

Rudolf Sárdi

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