Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis meets Laotian Foreign Minister

Press releases, 26.02.2024

On 26 February, Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis received the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Mr Saleumxay Kommasith, in Bern for an official working visit. Discussions focused on the development of bilateral relations, Switzerland's partnership with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the geopolitical situation.

Ignazio Cassis and Saleumxay Kommasith are sitting at a table on which the flags of their countries have been placed.
Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis and Laotian Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith welcomed the development of bilateral relations between the two countries in recent years at their meeting in Bern. © FDFA

Political, economic and consular ties between Switzerland and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic have been strengthened in recent years, with the opening of a consular agency in Vientiane in 2021 and an honorary consulate in Luang Prabang in 2022. At their meeting in Bern, Mr Cassis and Mr Kommasith welcomed these developments. This dynamic is in keeping with the objectives of the Federal Council's South East Asia Strategy 2023–26, which aims to consolidate and deepen Switzerland's relations with the countries in this region. It was also highlighted during the celebrations to mark 60 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 2023, in Vientiane.

Switzerland's participation in various high-level meetings organised by ASEAN, of which Laos holds the chairmanship this year, was also at the heart of discussions. Switzerland and ASEAN, considered to be the most important international organisation in the Asia–Pacific region, have maintained a sectoral dialogue partnership since 2016. This enables Switzerland to assert its interests in South East Asia more effectively at the multilateral level.

International cooperation: Switzerland active in Laos for almost 30 years

Discussions also focused on development cooperation. Switzerland has been present in Laos since 1995 as part of its regional programme devoted to the Mekong. It has been active in three main areas: climate change and natural resource management, inclusive economic development, and governance and civic engagement. In concrete terms, Switzerland supports initiatives in cross-border water management, hydroelectric dam safety, and vocational training in the tourism sector. Swiss support for the Mekong region amounts to around CHF 140 million, including CHF 60 million allocated to Laos, for the 2022–25 period.

Mr Cassis and Mr Kommasith touched upon the current geopolitical situation, particularly in Myanmar and the Middle East. Possible avenues for lasting peace in Ukraine were also discussed. Following his visit to Bern, Mr Kommasith will take part in the 55th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, which was opened today by Mr Cassis.

Further information:

Bilateral relations Switzerland–Laos
South East Asia Strategy 2023-2026

Address for enquiries:

FDFA Communication
Federal Palace West Wing
CH-3003 Bern, Switzerland
Tel. Press service: +41 58 460 55 55
E-mail: kommunikation@eda.admin.ch
Twitter: @SwissMFA


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs