President of Laos Choummaly Sayasone and President of Myanmar U Thein Sein on Saturday officially opened the Laos-Myanmar Friendship Bridge, creating a road link across the Mekong River.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Thongloun Sosoulith said the bridge was a symbol of the close cooperation between Laos and Myanmar. It also reflected the friendship, good relations, solidarity and mutual understanding between the peoples of the two countries.
Work on the US$26 million bridge began on February 16, 2013, and was expected to take 30 months but the project was completed five months ahead of schedule.
The bridge is 691 metres long including a 758-metre stretch on the Lao side for immigration and customs procedures while the corresponding section on the Myanmar side is 610 metres long.
|Lao President Choummaly Sayasone ( left ) and President of Myanmar U Thein Sein press buttons to unveil a plaque commemorating the opening of the Laos-Myanmar Friendship Bridge on Saturday. — Photo Khamphan|
The bridge has been built to boost trade, investment and tourism in the region especially between Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand and China, and it is envisaged that it will extend links to India and Bangladesh in the future, Mr Thongloun said.
Speaking on the same occasion, Myanmar’s Union Minister for Foreign Affairs U Wunna Maung Lwin said the first ever bridge linking Laos and Myanmar truly reflected the unity and solidarity between the two countries and peoples.
The bridge marks another milestone in bilateral relations and coincides with the 60th anniversary of Laos-Myanmar diplomatic relations. Since 1955, the two countries have enjoyed close ties based on deep rooted amity, good neighbourliness and mutual understanding, he added.
U Wunna Maung Lwin said Myanmar values its relations with Laos, which has always been an unwavering, dependable and trustworthy neighbour.
As a good neighbour, Myanmar is committed to work more closely with Laos bilaterally, regionally and internationally to promote peace, stability and prosperity in the region and the world at large, he added.
The bridge links Xienglab Township in Thachilek district of Myanmar’s Shan State with Xiengkok village in Long district, Luang Namtha province, northern Laos.
Construction of the bridge was first proposed by Vietnam at the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) meeting held in Yangon in October 2003.
The suggestion was taken up by other member countries, who realised that a Myanmar-Laos-Vietnam Corridor would benefit the countries of the sub-region.
A Memorandum of Understanding on the construction of the Myanmar-Laos Friendship Bridge was signed in March 2012 during a goodwill visit to Laos by Myanmar President U Thien Sein. The MoU was signed by Myanmar’s Ministry of Construction and Laos’ Ministry of Public Works and Transport.
The bridge will become an integral part of the GMS Northern Economic Corridor which will connect Vietnam’s Haiphong Seaport and Myanmar’s Kyauk Phyu Seaport through Laos.
In the long term, the bridge will benefit not only Myanmar and Laos but the other GMS countries and will enhance people-to-people contacts in the Asean region.
Source: Vientiane Times