Australia considers Vietnam a key partner

(VOV) - The new Australian government highly values Vietnam’s increasing profile and considers the country one of its key partners in the Asia-Pacific region, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has said.

Bishop made the statement during talks in Hanoi on February 18 with Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh.

For his part, Minh reiterated Vietnam’s consistent policy of attaching importance to the comprehensive partnership with Australia.

He proposed the two countries’ Foreign Ministries maintain the existing annual dialogue mechanism on consular affairs and human rights.

He thanked Australia for supporting Vietnam’s UN Human Rights Council candidate for the 2014-16 tenure, and asked it to support Vietnam’s non-permanent UN Security Council membership bid for 2020-2021.

Minh and Bishop noted with satisfaction the rapid development of Vietnam-Australia relations and their Foreign Ministries over the years, especially after the two countries established a comprehensive partnership in 2009.

Both sides regularly conducted high-level visit exchanges and effectively implemented the Vietnam-Australia plan of action for 2010-2013. They also maintained bilateral cooperation mechanisms through meetings of the joint committee for economic and trade cooperation, and strategic dialogue on security and national defence.

They signed a number of new cooperation documents, including those on national defence cooperation, criminal extradition, science-technology cooperation, and education-training cooperation.

Australia is currently Vietnam’s 8th biggest trade partner and holds the largest number of Vietnamese students (25,000) among foreign students communities.

Its development aid has increased year on year and has been used effectively. The Australian-funded My Thuan cable stayed bridge is considered a symbol of effective cooperation between the two countries. Australia has committed aid to the Cao Lanh bridge project in the Mekong Delta of Dong Thap province which is now under construction.

The two diplomats agreed Vietnam and Australia will soon finalise a plan of action for 2014-2016 to increase cooperation in politics, security, national defence, trade, investment, development aid, education-training, tourism and employment.

They will coordinate closely and support each other at regional and international forums, such as the East-Asia Summit (EAS), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, as well as within the UN framework.

Minh and Bishop stressed the importance of maintaining peace, stability and cooperation in the East Sea, ensuring maritime freedom, safety and security, strictly abiding by the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), and soon formulating a Code of Conduct (COC) in the area.

Julie Bishop arrived in Hanoi on February 17 for a three-day visit to Vietnam at the invitation of Deputy PM and FM Pham Binh Minh.

She visited the Australia Consulate General, met with representatives of the Australian businesses in Vietnam, and called on the Vietnam-Australia Joint Transnational Crime Centre.

On February 19, Bishop is scheduled to work with leaders of the Ministries of Industry and Trade, Planning and Investment, and Public Security.

She will attend an inaugural ceremony of Australian-funded projects on organic farming and domestic violence elimination in the North-western region.