VIENTIANE, May 26 (Bernama) — Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Nur Zahirah arrived here Monday to begin a three-day state visit to Laos.
The special aircraft carrying the royal couple touched down at the Vientiane Wattay International Airport at 10.15am (local time).
They were greeted on arrival by Energy and Minerals Minister Dr Bosaykham Vongdara, who is also the minister-in-attendance, senior government officials and Malaysian ambassador to Laos Zainal Abidin Ahmad.
The King and Queen were then driven to the presidential palace for the official welcoming ceremony. They were warmly received by president Choummaly Sayasone and his wife Keosaychay Sayasone.
As Tuanku Mizan was led to a special stage by Choummaly, the national anthems of the two countries were played.
Tuanku Mizan took the royal salute and inspected a guard-of-honour before being introduced to Laotian ministers, dignitaries, senior government officials and foreign diplomats.
The visit, at the invitation of Choummaly, is the first by a Malaysian head of state in the history of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
The King and Queen are accompanied by Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek, who is the minister-in-attendance, and senior government officials.
In the afternoon, Tuanku Mizan and Tuanku Nur Zahirah will visit the Kaysone Phomvihane Museum, which was built in December 2000, in honour of Kaysone Phomvihane, the Laotian revolutionary leader who was also former president.
They will also visit the Loa Ekkalak gallery, a leading handicraft centre, before returning to the Don Chan Palace Hotel, where they are staying during the visit.
Tuanku Mizan will grant an audience to the National Assembly chairman Thongsing Thammavong.
In a separate programme, Tuanku Nur Zahirah will visit the National Rehabilitation Centre, which was built in 1964. The centre currently houses 120 blind and deaf and 90 disabled children from throughout the country.
Tonight, the royal couple will attend a state banquet in their honour hosted by Choummaly and Keosaychay at a leading hotel.
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