Thai, Laos to build bridge across Heuang river 2003-12-15 12:47:43

BANGKOK, Dec. 15 (Xinhuanet) -- Thailand and Laos have started to build a bridge across the Heuang River between Thailand's Loei province and Laos' Sayaboury province to facilitate trade and tourism between the two countries, the Nation Newspaper reported Monday.

Thai Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai and his Laotian counterpart Somsavat Lengsavad presided over the groundbreaking ceremony Sunday at Ban Na Kaseng in Loei province, 550 kilometers northeast of Bangkok.

Surakiart said that the bridge, scheduled to be finished in sixmonths, would facilitate transport of agricultural products from Laos to Thailand and the movement of tourists from Thailand to Laos.

Surakiart noted the project is part of the Thai government's "Economic Cooperation Strategy" policy, which was launched last month in the Myanmar city of Pagan. Thailand provided 20 million baht (50,000 US dollars) for the construction of the 110-meter-long bridge and the two-kilometre road that connects it to Laos' National Route No 1.

Local residents and authorities hope the project would boost trade and tourism as well as enhance control over border-crossing activities.

The bridge project was proposed in 1993 but failed to materialize due to the lack of funding and problems concerning theboundary of the Heuang river.

Surakiart and Somsavad also discussed the ongoing border demarcation issue after the ceremony. The ministers agreed to complete demarcation of the 702-kilometer land border by the end of February. Enditem