The visiting prime minister of Laos pledged on Friday to further develop bilateral ties with Japan amid increasing interest from Japanese companies.

The two nations established diplomatic relations 60 years ago.

“Friendly and cooperative bilateral relations have continued to develop and bear fruit in various fields,” Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong told reporters Friday, speaking through an interpreter.

The Southeast Asian nation has been attracting Japanese investment over the years, Thongsing said.

“Investment from Japan has increased year after year,” the prime minister said. “We have more than 100 investment projects from Japan and the amount of investment grew.”

On prospects for the Laotian economy, Thongsing said his country has set a goal of achieving an annualized growth rate of more than 7.5 percent five years from now by developing its potential.

“Laos has various potentials, which are attractive to foreign investment,” Thongsing said. “Politics are stable, society is orderly, we have few natural disasters and are rich in natural resources.”

In particular, Thongsing said he would like to promote the energy, mineral exploitation and tourism industries for the further growth of Laos.

He also expressed appreciation for Japan’s contribution to the development of Laos, including official development assistance, yen loans and the dispatch of volunteers.

Meanwhile, Thongsing said Laos would make further efforts to develop its infrastructure and nurture human resources ahead of the expected launch of the regional economic community at the end of the year.

The launch of 10-nation ASEAN Economic Community “would be meaningful economic integration for Laos,” the prime minister said.

Thongsing called for Tokyo to further its commitment to developing infrastructure in the ASEAN countries, stressing Japan is a “very important partner” to the region.

Later the same day, Thongsing held a summit with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. His four-day official visit wraps up on Saturday.

Abe and his Laotian counterpart agreed to boost cooperation on investment and national security.

“We pledged to further deepen cooperation toward peace and development not only for the two countries, but also for the international community,” Abe told reporters after the summit at his office.

The two nations agreed to a hold security dialogue this year after their first meeting in 2014 to foster cooperation in the area.

They will also cooperate on counterterrorism and transnational crimes, Abe and Thongsing said in a statement released after the summit.

Ahead of the 60th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations, Laos donated four young elephants to Kyoto City Zoo last year. The elephants went on public display last week.

Last month, about 220 Japanese cherry trees were planted during a ceremony in Laos to honor the anniversary.

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