|Prince Andrew, Duke of York opens the ceremony. — VNS Photo Le Phuong
LONDON (VNS) — British businesses were now leading in financial investments in Viet Nam, according to Prince Andrew, Duke of York. He added that Viet Nam was a special country and that the United Kingdom needed to develop a special relation with her.
The Prince was opening a meeting in London on Thursday celebrating the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Viet Nam and the United Kingdom - and Viet Nam's 68th day. The function was held at Cadogan Hall in London.
The Prince said that education was the focus of the co-operation and that about 8,000 Vietnamese students were studying at British universities, far more than in any other countries in Europe.
The Prince has made many valuable contributions to developing the friendship between the two countries, from economics and trade to education. He visited Viet Nam for the first time in 1999 and in the last 14 years he has made several visits.
At the function, senior Vietnamese and British officials and diplomats agreed that bilateral ties had developed well in the last few years..
Vietnamese Ambassador to the UK Vu Quang Minh said that such friendship was based on strong historical, cultural and human links, strategic interests and shared values.
Parliamentary under Secretary of State for Defence, Lord Astor, who was the first British defence minister to visit Viet Nam (last year), said that he was keen to see ties boosted.
"There is no doubt that we are in what will be the Asian Century. This is something that Her Majesty's Government recognises and which has been reflected in what my Foreign Office colleagues describe as a "network shift" of diplomatic effort into Asia. This shift is reflected in the increasing importance that Britain places on this region," he said.
"Our developing relationship with Viet Nam, a significant and important country in the region, contributes materially to this.
"I am keen to see that this relationship includes a defence and security relationship; not least because we recognise Viet Nam as a significant security actor in the region."
Lord Astor also said that he hoped the two countries would work more closely on defence and security issues when a new defence section was established in Hanoi by the end of this year. He said the first resident defence attaché would be posted from November and his appointment would make tremendous difference to the speed at which the countries' defence relationship developed.
He also said that one of the new attaché's first tasks would be to support the visit of HMS Daring, a Type 45 Destroyer, to Viet Nam at the end of the year. "Let us all hope that this positive pattern continues for the next forty years."
About 800 peopel attended the ceremony, including representatives from the British government and London City, friendship organisations, ambassadors and representatives from diplomatic missions.
Also at the function were business people and hundreds of British friends, representatives of the Vietnamese community and students living and studying in the UK.
Dignitaries included the Chairman of HCM City People's Committee, Le Hoang Quan; delegates from Vietnam National Assembly led by Nguyen Duc Hien, chairman of NA's Public Petitions Committee; Len Aldis, Chairman of Britain-Vietnam Friendship Society; Ben Chapman, Executive Chairman for the Vietnam-UK network; and George Howarth, chairman of an All Party Parliamentary Group on Viet Nam.
Commemorative medals for the Cause of Diplomac, were presented by the Vietnamese Government to Len Aldis and Ben Chapman in recognition of their invaluable and devoted contributions to reinforcing and developing the ties between Viet Nam and Britain. — VNS