Lao PM Sisoulith lands in Clark for Asean Summit
CLARK FREEPORT ZONE, Pampanga — Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith has arrived here on Sunday to attend the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit and Related Summits in Manila.
The Laotian plane carrying Sisoulith landed at 10:37 a.m. at the Clark International Airport.
He was welcomed by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Jeryl Santos, and several other local officials, including Pampanga Gov. Lilia Pineda, Vice Gov. Dennis Padilla, Angeles City Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan, Mabalacat City Mayor Cris Garbo, and Clark International Airport Corp. President and CEO Alexander Caugiran.
Sisoulith, the third leader to arrive for the Summit, was welcomed by 2,000 school children in Filipiniana costume dancing to traditional music.
The PM is set to meet President Rodrigo Duterte and other Asean leaders and its dialogue partners in the next three days in different venues in Manila.
The Philippines is the chair of this year’s Asean Summit, which coincides with the regional bloc’s 50th anniversary.
Sisoulith met Duterte in the past two Asean Summits — last April in Manila and September in Vientiane, Laos.
Prior to his appointment as prime minister in 2016, Sisoulith served as the deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs. He is a member of the politburo or the executive committee of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party, ranking third.
Together with Myanmar, Lao PDR joined the Asean bloc on July 23, 1997. It is one of the smallest countries in the region in terms of population, with 6,758,353 people, next to Singapore and Brunei.
While the country recorded the highest gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate in the region with 7.3 percent in 2016, Laos has posted the least GDP with US$15.9 billion and its GDP per capita remained at the lower half of the region with US$2,353.2.
Lao PDR is one of the only two socialist states in the region, together with Vietnam. /cbb
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