Mr. Chairman,

Your Royal Highnesses,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The delegation of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic would like to express its sincere appreciation to the host country, Malaysia for excellent arrangement in organizing the ceremony of admission of new member as well as this Meeting. On behalf of the Lao government and people, I would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to the Government and friendly people of Malaysia for their warmest welcome and hospitality accorded to our delegation. We highly appreciate the most inspiring inaugural speech of the Honorable Dato Seri Dr. Mahathir Bin Mohamad delivered this morning with firm polotical provision, reflecting far-sighted vision for the development of our South-east Asia region. We also would like to profoundly thank the Honorable Prime Minister for his kind words addressed to Laos.

The Peoples Democratic Republic is very grateful to be admitted into ASEAN as a full member during the ASEAN’s 30th anniversary. This significant historic event would open a new era for the enhancement of cooperative relationship between Laos and other ASEAN Member Countries in the interest of the peoples in the region.

I would like to convey my congratulations to H.E. Dato’ Abdullah Haji Badawi the Malaysian Foreign Minister and to H.E. Mr. Domingo Siazon, Secretary Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, for their respective election as Chairman and Vice-Chairman of this Meeting. I am confident that, with the eminent wisdom and invaluable experiences of both Excellencies, our meeting will be concluded with bright success.

I highly value the active role and fruitful activities carried out by H.E. the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia during last year in the capacity of Chairman of the ASEAN Standing Committee, thus making further progress and remarkable achievement in many areas for Asean.

I would like to take this opportunity to express our warm welcome to Excellencies Mr. Ung Huot, Ministers of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Kingdom of Cambodia and Mr. Leonard Louma., the Special Envoy of Papua New Guinea who are now attending our annual me as observer and special observer of ASEAN respectively.

Mr. Chairman,

Laos has participated in ASEAN activities since 1992. During that period of time we were getting ourself acquainted with different areas of ASEAN cooperation and took all necessary measures in the preparation for the entry into our association.

Over the past 30 years, ASEAN has developed herself unceasingly with remarkable achievements in many areas, taking the steps towards the 21s century. We are grateful to witness that, with firm solidarity, strong determination and close cooperation ASEAN member countries have jointly built Southeast Asia into a zone of peace, stability, cooperation and prosperity, thus contributing to the cause of world peace and security.

The implementation of the CEPT Scheme to establish AFTA and other agreements for the economic cooperation, has become a stimulative factor for the enhancement of trade among ASEAN members and encouragement of competitiveness in the field of production within ASEAN framework. Meanwhile, ASEAN is cooperating actively with economic groupings of other regions upholding South-East Asia as an open area for trade and investment. In this context, it is a great pleasure for me to sign, on behalf of the Lao PDR’s government, the Protocol for her accession to ASEAN Agreements which enables Laos to pursue her consistent policy of renovation and become part of free trade area with continued growth.

ASEAN has spared no effort to find out initiatives for the strengthening of cooperation for regional development. The ASEAN-Mekong Basin Development Cooperation Framework adopted in June last year by the Ministerial Meeting in Kuala Lumpur is now being implemented with progress, particularly the Asian Railway project. The Lao PDR supports this scheme and will do its almost to contribute to accelerate its implementation for the common interest of all countries.

The functional cooperation of ASEAN is being encouraged and upheld as commonly targeted by the Association that is to build ASEAN as a community of complementary, homogeneity technological progress, thus contributing to the reinforcement of our political and economic strength.

Mr. Chairman,

ASEAN has so far significantly contributed to boost up confidence and cooperation in Asia and in the Pacific. The ASEAN Regional Forum, having ASEAN as the primary driving force, is very much beneficial for the common effort in the safeguard of peace and stability in the region and constitutes a constructive and efficient working methodology. In participating since its inception, the Lao PDR sees that exchange of views on issues pertaining the situation m Asia and the Pacific among concerned countries is of great significance to strengthen mutual trust and confidence by helping each other to solve the problems in a reasonable manner taking into account the interests of all.

The effort developed by ASEAN countries and to promote and concretize a nuclear free zone in South East Asia is the most improtant step in the guarantee of peace and stability in the region and thus contributing to the promotion of world peace. As a story of the SEANWFZ, Laos will continue active contribution to this common effort.

ASEAN has put forward all steps in the building up and safeguarding of peace and preventive diplomacy and and been playing active role in the common effort of solving various problem in the on and in the world by mean of peace including in the activities of the United Nations and of the Non-Aligned Movement. Laos will continue to cooperate with all member countries in the said beneficial activities.

Laos highly evaluates the important role and activities of ASEAN in multilateral trading system and especially in the World Trade Organization and in the enhancement of economic cooperation with countries and regions namely countries in Southeast Asia, Pacific, Europe, etc with various efficient means. We will spare no effort to contribute to the d activities for long term interest of all.

Mr. Chairman

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Lao PDR will relentlessly further expand its cooperation with foreign countries and contribute, at its capability, to the common cause of enhancing peace, stability and promoting cooperation for development in the region and in the world. As member of the Association, Laos will continue to pursue its foreign policy of peace, independence, friendship and cooperation in order to fulfill its commitments by taking active part in the constructive activities of cooperation in all fields with other member countries, thus contributing to enhance the strength, unity and the prosperity of ASEAN. We still keep strong conviction the Kingdom of Cambodia will join our family in order to build ASEAN-10 in a near future in accordance with the will of our associations Founding Fathers.

On this auspicious occasion, I am strongly convinced that, by strengthening solidarity, cooperation and mutual assistance among the Asean member countries, Southeast Asia will become a region of prosperity and its people will enjoy peaceful life.

Thank you.