BEIJING, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) — China is willing to work on development planning and strategies with Laos to cooperate in major areas, including railways and development zones, Premier Li Keqiang said Monday.
Li made the remarks during talks with Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, who is on a four-day official visit to China, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
Li called on both countries to take a leading role in major projects, such as railways as well as economic and development zones, to advance cooperation on production and investment.
Thongloun said the Laos-China railway is of great importance to Laos, and his country will spare no efforts to promote it.
The China-Laos railway, a key project of the Belt and Road initiative, has a length of 414 km, with over 60 percent as bridges and tunnels, linking the Mohan-Boten border gate in northern Laos with capital Vientiane.
Construction started in late 2015, and the project will take five years with a 37.4 billion yuan (5.4 billion U.S. dollars) investment.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin told reporters after the talks that the Chinese government is committed to forging ahead with the project.
During the talks, Li also encouraged China and Laos to enhance cooperation and share experiences in several areas, including agriculture,processing agricultural produce, poverty-reduction, finance and defense.
On the political front, Li said Laos is a good neighbor, and that China would continue its friendly policy towards Laos and firmly supports Laos in its development path, to jointly safeguard regional peace, stability and prosperity.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of dialogue between China and ASEAN.
Holding the ASEAN presidency this year, Laos successfully held the East Asia leaders’ meeting, and played a positive role in cementing China-ASEAN relations, Li said.
Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of ASEAN.
China firmly supports the construction of the ASEAN Economic Community and ASEAN’s central role in regional cooperation, Li said, adding that China will participate in ASEAN commemorative events.
China hopes Laos will continue to work for the steady and healthy development of China-ASEAN relations, the premier said.
Calling China “a sincere friend and brother of Laos,” Thongloun hailed the sound development of Laos-China relations.
He said Laos is willing to use this year’s 55th anniversary of diplomatic ties with China to better integrate development strategies with China and deepen cooperation in infrastructure, finance, agriculture and development zones.
After the talks, the two prime ministers witnessed the signing of cooperation deals on economy and trade
Thongloun arrived in China on Monday, at Li’s invitation.