Kremlin hosts Lao leader for business talks

13th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday hosted his Lao counterpart Choummaly Sayasone for Kremlin talks as Moscow seeks to increase its influence in southeast Asia.

During the first official visit to Russia by a head of state of the small but resource-rich country, Sayasone and Medvedev signed several agreements including a "strategic partnership" declaration, the Kremlin said in a statement.

"We hope that this visit will let us strengthen the basis for traditional, friendly ties between our countries and create a new foundation for the development of our relations," the Kremlin quoted the Lao leader as saying.

The presidential adminstration did not announce the result of the meeting but said ahead of the meeting that the discussions were expected to focus on cooperation in telecommunications, hydro-electrical energy and mining.

Russian companies including RusHydro, the country's biggest hydroelectric power producer, and electricity generator Inter RAO are seeking to get a foothold in Laos.

China, along with Vietnam and Thailand, is among the top investors in Laos.

Trade between Russia and Laos is miniscule and amounted to $8.7 million as of last year.

During the Cold War, southeast Asia was a key battleground between the Soviet Union and the West and today the Kremlin is seeking to revive its influence in the region.

© 2011 AFP

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