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Interview: Laos playing role as bridging country between ASEAN, China: official

HONG KONG, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- Laos is playing a role of a bridge between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China, a senior Lao official said here on Saturday.

Laos has been deepening cooperation with China, which will " benefit not only the duo but also the ASEAN region," thus the role of "a bridging country between ASEAN and China," said Lattanamany Khounnyvong, Lao vice minister of public works and transport.

Laos is also keen to play a part in the ASEAN integration process as the integration will benefit all concerned countries and their people, he said in an interview with Xinhua on the sidelines of the first ASEAN Development Forum held here.

"No country can develop by itself," he added.

As for cooperation between Laos and China, the official highlighted progress made in the transport sector, saying railways being planned between the two neighbors include the 418-km Laos- China railway project, which would be part of the Singapore- Kunming rail link.

"For the railway, we signed a MoU with China in 2010. Both countries have jointly conducted the survey and feasibility study. Detailed design has been completed," he said, adding that the two sides are currently discussing the investment model.

On cooperation with other ASEAN member countries, Lattanamany said Laos is working with Myanmar for the construction of a bridge on the Mekong River, which, when put into use in 2015.

Laos has also clinched an agreement with China, Myanmar and Thailand on commercial navigation on the Mekong River, which is called Lanchang for the section in the Chinese territory.

He expressed the belief that closer Laos-China ties will benefit the Lao people as faster development will help reduce poverty and produce more jobs in the land-locked nation.

The mutual cooperation will help bring more Chinese people to Laos, boosting the latter's tourism industry.

"We can develop together," said the official.

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