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Prime minister offers help on health care systems

Abe discusses aid, security in Laos

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Laotian Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong agreed Sunday during their summit to seek the launch of a security dialogue framework.

“I would like to come to a mutual understanding (with Laos on various issues) through dialogue between our foreign and defense officials,” Abe said at a press conference after the summit meeting in Vientiane.

Abe also unveiled Tokyo’s decision to extend yen loans to help Laos expand an airport terminal to back its efforts to improve its infrastructure.

In other support for Laos’ development, Abe offered Japanese help for the Southeast Asian country’s health and medical care systems, Japanese officials said.

Under the deal, Japan plans to aid Laos in training medical professionals and procuring medical equipment, the officials said.

Abe is on the second and last leg of a two-day trip to Southeast Asia that took him to Cambodia the previous day. With the trip, he has now visited all 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations since taking office last December.

On Saturday, Abe and his Cambodian counterpart, Hun Sen, agreed during their summit meeting that they will seek to enhance maritime security by establishing the principle of the rule of law to settle disputes in the Asia-Pacific region.

The two countries also decided to advance cooperation between their defense authorities and work together to improve health and medical care in Cambodia, according to a joint statement released after their meeting in Phnom Penh.

The two leaders “underscored the importance of settling maritime disputes by peaceful means in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law . . . in order to establish the principle of the rule of the law in the Asia-Pacific region,” the statement said.

The document reflects territorial rows between China and some Southeast Asian countries in the South China Sea as well as one between China and Japan in the East China Sea.

The first trip to Cambodia, which has close ties with China, by a Japanese prime minister in 13 years is believed to be aimed at keeping Beijing in check.