|Head of the Government Committee for Religious Affairs Vu Chien Thang (R) and LFNC Vice President Som Ock Kingsada (Photo: VNA)
The Lao delegation, led by LFNC Vice President Som Ock Kingsada, and the Vietnamese side also exchanged views on each country’s current religious issues and reviewed the implementation of their cooperation agreement on religious affairs signed in Hanoi in July 2014.
Implementing the agreement, the two sides have exchanged delegations; co-held experience-sharing conferences among provinces along their joint border; and facilitate the two countries’ Buddhism to enhance exchange and cooperation.
The agreement has helped the two sides increase exchange of information on religious affairs and policies and share experience in state management of religous affairs, thus contributing to strengthening friendship and comprehensive cooperation between Vietnam and Laos as well as relations between the two countries’ Buddhist Sanghas.
Vietnam is home to about 26 million followers of various religions, accounting for about 27 percent of the populaition, alongside with around 55,000 dignitaries and over 29,000 places of worship, said Vu Chien Thang, Chairman of the Government Committee for Religious Affairs.
Religions with the largest numbers of followers nationwide are Buddhism (14 million), Catholics (7 million), and Caodaism (1.1 million), he said, adding that Vietnam always respects people’s freedom of belief and religion and applies a consistent policy on ensuring such freedom and promoting equality and solidarity among religions in the country.
LFNC Vice President Som Ock Kingsada, for his part, updated the host on his country’s socio-economic, politic and cultural situations over recent years. The LFNC has prioritised improving the role of village elders and leaders in strengthening people’s solidarity and reducing poverty; and mobilising funds from organisations and expats for national construction.
He noted Laos has four major religions, among which Buddhism is the most widely practiced, followed by Protestantism.
The two sides agreed to continue increasing delegation exchange and bolstering cooperation in training governmental officials in charge of religious affairs, and to not let any organisation take advantage of religious issues to sabotage the bilateral friendship.