The new embassy of the United Kingdom to Laos officially opened in Vientiane yesterday, aiming to boost relations between the people and governments of the two countries. Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Rt Hon William Hague, delivered this message during an interview with Lao media at the embassy’s opening ceremony. “It’s very important that we’re represented here in Laos. This is a country which enjoys strong economic growth and is, at the moment of course, chairing the Asia-Europe Meeting Summit,” Mr Hague said.
Laos and the UK established diplomatic relations on September 5, 1955. The original UK embassy to Laos was closed 27 years ago and moved to a base in Bangkok, Thailand. But last month the governments of Laos and the UK agreed to reopen embassies in each country’s capital city. “We want to make sure there are closer links again between the people and government of Laos, and the people and government of the United Kingdom. And that’s why it’s a great pleasure to re-open the British embassy,” Mr Hague said. Regarding trade between the two countries, UK exports to Laos last year amounted to about 8 million GBP. Mr Hague said although that export volume was double that of the previous year, there is untapped potential in terms of trade and opening the embassy will help to boost relations.“By having an embassy here we will be able to encourage trade in both directions, which will help the jobs and businesses of both countries.”
The opening of the embassy in Laos is part of the UK’s plan to establish embassies in all 10 Asean member countries, aiming to intensify trade and diplomatic relations with the group and its member states. Mr Hague said the UK will also be able to make sure it’s well informed on, and maintains good links with, all aspects of Asean projects. Lao Minister of Energy and Mines, Dr Soulivong Daravong, and the new UK Ambassador to Laos, Mr Philip Malone, also attended the opening ceremony.
published with the permission of Vientiane Times