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Electricity purchase agreement signed
Vientiane will be five billion baht richer

Bangkok Post / 27 May 2000
Bhanravee Tansubhapol in Vientane

Thailand yesterday signed an agreement to buy electricity from Laos' Nam
Theun 2 dam in a move that will put five billion baht into the coffers of
the cash-strapped country.

Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai and his Lao counterpart Sisavath Keobouphanh
witnessed the signing that should provide a big boost to their ties, as it
confirmed Thailand's commitment to Laos, and would help bolster investor
confidence in Laos.

Mr Chuan assured Mr Sisavath that Thai demand for Lao electricity would
rise as foreign investment in Thailand was growing, with more than 50 new
projects registered with the Board of Investment over the past four months.
Laos also suffered from the fallout of the economic crisis of 1997 that
had squeezed Thai energy demands.

Mr Chuan had initiated the move to buy power supplies from Laos during
his first government eight years ago. His proposal then to buy 1,500
megawatts was doubled recently.

The US$1.2-billion project, jointly-funded by Transfield of Australia,
Italian-Thai Development, Phatra Thanakit, Jasmine International and
Electricite de France, has the capacity to produce 681 megawatts.
Mr Chuan also met President Khamtay Siphandone, who called for Thai
co-operation to root out past problems.

Government spokesman Akapol Sorasuchart said the Lao president stressed
that the problem of "ill-intentioned" people living in Thailand would have
to be resolved together. Laos regards the Hmong as anti-communist activists.
Mr Khamtay said the two countries could talk in depth because they
enjoyed a special relationship between their governments and people.
Mr Chuan assured him Thailand would not allow any "ill-intentioned
people" to ruin their neighbourly relations.

Mr Sisavath urged co-operation in the prevention and suppression of
narcotic drugs and stressed that this should not be limited to Thailand and
Laos but to all affected countries.

Mr Chuan said he would ask police and military officials to discuss ways
of firming up efforts to fight the drug menace for mutual benefits.



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