India, Laos agree to allow direct flights


India, Laos agree to allow direct flights

Vice-President Hamid Ansari on Friday signed two memorandums of understanding with his counterpart in Laos, Bounyang Vorachith in the Presidential Palace Ho Kham. The MoUs cover an air services agreement — allowing airlines to start a direct flight between the two countries — and another agreement for three ‘quick impact projects’ in the agriculture sector.

“The air services agreement is an important development because it takes a lot of pressure off the fact that no formal document existed for direct flights between the two countries,” Secretary East Anil Wadhwa told reporters during a briefing.

“I think there was more demand from Lao travellers who want to go into the Buddhist area, especially Bodh Gaya and New Delhi.

“The Lao Airlines (Laos’ national carrier) would be seriously looking at that proposition in the coming days. We would also be exploring this with our own airline in the future,” he added. The Indian government would be talking to Air India as well as private airlines regarding this, Mr. Wadhwa said.

India was handed over two certificates of completion of two irrigation projects in the Champassak province of Laos.

The signing of agreements followed a restricted meeting between the two Vice Presidents and delegation-level talks.

During the talks, Vice President Ansari spoke about the fact that economic relations between India and Laos were below potential and that the two countries had agreed to step up economic cooperation.

He also brought up the issue of facilitating a better investment climate in Laos to make it feasible for companies to invest in the country, especially in the pulp, mining, and small and medium enterprise sectors.

Laos reiterated its support of India’s bid for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. India also urged Laos to join the forum of 42 developing countries that were pushing for reforms in the Security Council.

Following the signing of the agreements, Vice President Hamid Ansari called on the President of Laos, Mr Choummaly Sayasone. He then met the Prime Minister of Laos, Mr Thongsing Thammavong. Mr. Ansari also called on by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Thongloun Sisoulith, and Vice President of National Assembly Dr Xaysomphone.

After the diplomatic meetings, Mr. Ansari visited the Soldiers Monument, built to commemorate Lao heroes who died in war during 1945 to 1973. He also visited the That Luang Stupa, where he paid respects to the Buddha’s statue and signed the visitors’ book.

“I have been told that a relic from Buddha was brought from India in the 2nd Century B.C. and is till now enclosed inside the Stupa. This sacred Stupa, Laos’ national symbol, is a testament of the strong bonds of friendship and cooperation that exist between our two countries,” Mr. Ansari wrote in the Stupa’s visitors’ book.


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