Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Phạm Bình Minh (R) meets Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop yesterday. — Photo Khánh Linh
SYDNEY — Australia continues to see Việt Nam as one of its key partners in the Asia-Pacific region, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Phạm Bình Minh yesterday.
Minh, who is on a three-day (November 29 - December 1) official visit to Australia, responded that Việt Nam seeks intensive and effective co-operation with Australia in all fields.
The ministers expressed pleasure at the flourishing of bilateral relations in general and between the two foreign ministries in particular, especially after Việt Nam and Australia established a comprehensive partnership in 2009 and formally agreed to strengthen it in 2015.
Regular high-level visits and meetings between the two countries have brought into full play bilateral co-operation mechanisms such as high-level consultations on development assistance, the joint committee on scientific and technological co-operation, the foreign affairs-defence strategic dialogue, and the agricultural forum, they said.
Australia is currently the eighth largest trade partner of Việt Nam and also hosts the largest number of Vietnamese students. Việt Nam has received a large number of Australian students and apprentices under the New Colombo Plan.
Australia’s development assistance for Việt Nam has been used effectively, making practical contributions to socio-economic development, the two FMs noted.
On measures to bolster bilateral relations, Australia pledged to facilitate the entry of Vietnamese agricultural and aquatic products to its market. As an important economic partner, Australia will continue prioritising ODA provision for Việt Nam in areas listed in the 2016-2019 Việt Nam-Australia Plan of Action.
The two sides will optimise opportunities and interests generated by the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement and the ASEAN Economic Community, the FMs agreed.
They will also promote the ratification and implementation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement and the finalisation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, they said.
The foreign ministers also discussed regional and international issues of common concern and agreed on closer co-ordination and mutual support at regional and international forums.
Julie Bishop said Australia fully supports Việt Nam’s hosting of the APEC Summit in 2017, and backs ASEAN’s solidarity, unity and central role in the region.
She also reiterated her country’s consistent stance on the East Sea issue, highlighting the need to ensure peace, stability, safety, security and freedom of navigation on the sea and the air for unimpeded trade.
Australia advocates the settlement of disputes by peaceful means, with respect for diplomatic and legal processes, adherence to international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and avoidance of force or threat to use force, she said.
After their talks, Minh and Bishop signed the 2016-2019 Việt Nam-Australia Plan of Action, which details the targets and measures in spheres of bilateral and multilateral co-operation.
Meeting the PM
Also yesterday, Minh met with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who applauded the signing of the plan of action, saying it will create a comprehensive and detailed framework for effective and substantive development of bilateral ties.
Turnbull said Australia always considers Việt Nam an important and trustworthy Asian-Pacific partner in both political and economical realms, and supports ASEAN’s higher role and stature in the region.
Minh said he was happy to note the vigorous and comprehensive expansion of Việt Nam-Australia relations, particularly in trade, investment, ODA provision, education, tourism and people-to-people links.
The two countries hold numerous advantages and potential to intensify relations, said Minh, requesting Australia to facilitate imports of Vietnamese produce, especially tropical fruits. Việt Nam is also ready to purchase high-quality agricultural products, coal and liquefied gas from Australia, Minh said.
The Australian PM reiterated that his country prioritises close co-operation with Việt Nam to successfully organise the APEC 2017 meet and accelerate the ratification and enforcement of TPP. It will keep working closely with Việt Nam at regional and international forums, as well as in security and strategic matters in the region such as the East Sea issue.
Minh also met with the Stephen Parry, President of Australia’s Senate. Parry asked Minh to convey his invitation to National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyễn Thị Kim Ngân to visit Australia. The two officials agreed to facilitate increased exchanges between the two parliaments. — VNS