Brunei keen to broaden cooperation with Laos

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (Borneo Bulletin/ANN) - Brunei Darussalam is keen to explore different avenues of mutual cooperation while it continues to deepen its bilateral relationship with the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR), 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 said in a titah last night.

His Majesty made the remarks during the official banquet at the Istana Nurul Iman hosted in honour of Lao PDR Prime Minister Dr Thongloun Sisoulith, who is in the country for a two-day official visit.

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; and Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Masna, Ambassador-at-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were present at the banquet.

His Majesty said Prime Minister Sisoulith’s visit to the Sultanate, on the cusp of Brunei and the Lao PDR marking their 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations, has provided a renewed momentum in the two countries’ bilateral and regional partnerships and is meaningful in further solidifying a “much-valued relationship”.

His Majesty said he looks forward to continue working closely with Prime Minister Sisoulith in exploring opportunities that bring mutual benefits and prosperity to Brunei and Lao PDR as they aspire towards achieving their respective national visions, and expressed his contentment that the public and private sectors of both countries are actively looking at ways to enhance economic cooperation.

The monarch also welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the national chambers of both countries, expressing confidence that it will encourage exchanges and understanding between them, particularly between micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

“It is therefore important to nurture these enterprises (to the point where they can) penetrate regional and global markets, and serve as engines of growth for our economy,” His Majesty said.

The monarch noted that people-to-people relations are another important feature of Brunei-Lao PDR bilateral ties, and expressed his pleasure at seeing Lao PDR students pursuing their studies under the Brunei Darussalam Government Scholarships (BDGS), relaying his hope that this will help in strengthening the human capacity building of Lao PDR.

His Majesty also pointed out that the signing of the MoU on education yesterday will pave the way for academic exchanges and promote collaboration between the two countries in the area.

He highlighted the importance for Brunei and Lao PDR, as closer partners in ASEAN, to further deepen their commitment to the region, especially in the face of global challenges.

“It is important for us to work closely with our other ASEAN colleagues to build a strong and united ASEAN Community that will create more opportunities for our peoples and prepare them well for the future,” His Majesty said.

In his speech, Prime Minister Sisoulith commended the longstanding traditional and friendly relations between his country and Brunei.

“Lao PDR and Brunei are not only members of the ASEAN family but our nations are also close friends,” he said.

“This is reflected in our longstanding mutual support at bilateral, regional and international levels.”

He praised His Majesty’s wise leadership, which he said has “helped steer Brunei into peace and prosperity”, and expressed his confidence that this will help Brunei realise its Vision 2035 and further elevate its status to a wealthy and sustainably-developed nation with a greater role on the international arena.

Prime Minister Sisoulith said that his visit is another important contribution towards enhancing good relations and cooperation between Brunei Darussalam and Lao PDR, and called the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries “an important milestone in further deepening relations, cooperation and friendship”.

Also in attendance were Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic Saleumxay Kommasith and Minister of Defence II Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Awang Halbi bin Haji Mohd Yussof, in his role as the Minister-in-Attendance.

The banquet began with the recitation of Doa Selamat by State Mufti Pehin Datu Seri Maharaja Dato Paduka Seri Setia (Dr) Ustaz Haji Awang Abdul Aziz bin Juned.