President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, friends, I am delighted to see you.
I recently met with your Vice President on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok. Today we have an opportunity to continue that dialog, that conversation.
We in Russia know you as a reliable friend. Actually, you and I were university students in Leningrad at almost the same time, during the same years. I was there during the same period as you.
Overall, the political level [of our relations] is quite high. What we need to do is fill it with more economic content. Unfortunately, bilateral trade further decreased last year. Nevertheless, I believe there are prospects, good prospects. We will discuss this now.
President of Laos Thongloun Sisoulith (in Russian): I would like to recall my Russian and tell you this.
Thank you very much, Mr President, for finding the opportunity to meet today despite being so busy. I did not have a chance to attend the forum in Vladivostok where you had invited me, but I was in Cuba at the time. I am grateful to you for finding the time to meet with Vice President Pany Yathotou. She substantively informed me about the results of the forum and the agreements you reached, and I was very happy about that.
I know we have not met for a very long time. The last time was maybe in 2017 in Singapore, a brief conversation. But time flies. The way you were standing and talking to me then became very popular in Laos. People kept asking, what language were they speaking? The people in Laos were deeply touched when you offered me your words of friendship and understanding.
Mr President, if you do not mind, I would like to hear your opinion first, and then we will exchange views.