President Nguyen Minh Triet (right) is welcomed by his Tunisian counterpart Zeine Al-Abidine Ben Ali (left) during his state visit to Tunisia. — VNA/VNS Photo Nguyen Khang
TUNIS — President Nguyen Minh Triet and his Tunisian counterpart have reaffirmed the importance of developing traditional ties between the two countries.
The Vietnamese President was paying a State visit to Tunisia, the first-ever by a Vietnamese head of State to Tunisia since the two countries established diplomatic ties on December 15, 1972.
After an official welcoming ceremony at Carthage Palace, State President Triet held talks with Tunisian President Zeine Al-Abidine Ben Ali, during which he affirmed that Viet Nam always attached importance to developing a relationship with Tunisia and considers the country one of its priority partners in North Africa.
He spoke highly of the achievements that the Tunisian people made during their national construction and development and said he was pleased with positive developments in the bilateral ties over the past period.
For his part, President Zeine Al-Abidine Ben Ali said the Vietnamese State leader's visit was of historic significance, opening a new chapter in the multi-faceted relations between the two countries.
He praised Viet Nam's achievements, especially its efforts to overcome the negative impact of the global economic recession in order to maintain its dynamism and attractiveness in the Asia-Pacific region.
He also affirmed that Tunisia attached importance to developing ties with Viet Nam, considering it one of the priorities in Southeast Asia.
The two leaders discussed at length specific measures to strengthen and expand bilateral co-operation, particularly in oil and gas, trade, agriculture, and tourism.
They agreed to increase the exchange of delegations at all levels and begin negotiations on the signing of agreements, paving the way for long-term co-operation and creating favourable conditions for investment and trade relations between the two countries.
On behalf of the Vietnamese State, President Triet invited the Tunisian President to pay an official visit to Viet Nam.
Parallel with the talks between the heads of the two States, leaders of Vietnamese ministries and agencies discussed the expansion of bilateral co-operation in many fields with their Tunisian partners They agreed to co-ordinate in preparing for the 2nd session of the Viet Nam-Tunisia Inter-Government Committee.
In the evening, President Zeine Al-Abidine Ben Ali hosted a banquet for the Vietnamese delegation.
Yesterday, President Nguyen Minh Triet had meetings with Tunisian Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi and President of the Chamber of Deputies Foued Mebazaa.
Triet affirmed that Viet Nam always wished to strengthen relations with traditional friends like Tunisia in every field based on the potential and advantages of each country.
He suggested that in the field of politics, the two countries should boost exchange visits at all levels and provide each other with support at regional and international forums.
The two countries also needed to co-operate in other fields, such as oil, tourism and fertiliser production, as they could complement each other and create favourable conditions for their products to be sold in their respective markets and neighbouring ones, he added.
Triet stressed that to ensure effective co-operation, the Governments of Viet Nam and Tunisia should focus on discussing and reaching agreements on protectionism and encouraging investment.
He expressed his hope that with the determination of both countries, their co-operation in economics, trade and investment would continue to develop and match their political relations.
The two Tunisian leaders agreed that Tunisia's leaders and people strongly wished to enhance co-operation with Viet Nam because the two countries shared many similarities, including their priorities for education, human resources development, economic development coupled with social equity, and the diplomatic policies of ensuring and boosting world peace.
The Tunisian leaders said all of these similarities would serve as a solid foundation for more co-operation.
PM Mohamed Ghannouchi said the upcoming meeting of the Viet Nam-Tunisia Inter-government Committee would be an appropriate opportunity for the two countries to reach agreements which would serve as a legal foundation for their enterprises to boost trade and investment.
He said the countries needed to set a goal of increasing their trade turnover to more than US$100 million and encourage their enterprises to co-operate and enter the other market.
President Triet conveyed an invitation from Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung to the Tunisian Prime Minister to come on an official visit to Viet Nam and attend the second Viet Nam- Africa Conference.
Triet also visited Petrovietnam Exploration Production Corporation (PVEP)'s PVEP Tunisia.
He said the company's operation would contribute to tightening the relations between the two countries and asked the company to improve its effective co-operation with foreign partners.
Yesterday, Deputy Minister of Finance Pham Sy Danh and Tunisian Secretary of State to the Minister of Finance Moncef Bouden signed an agreement on avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of tax evasion.
On Monday, President Triet attended and delivered a speech at the Viet Nam-Tunisia Business Forum held at the Headquarters of the Tunisian Union for Industry, Commerce and Handicrafts (UTICA) in Tunis.
He expressed that the results of the talks between him and the Tunisian President have opened a great opportunity for the two countries to boost economic-trade and investment relations.
Viet Nam and Tunisia supported each other in their struggles for national liberation in the past and today, they should continue strengthening solidarity and co-operation for mutual development, Triet said, adding that Tunisia is a traditional friend of Viet Nam.
He noted that the Vietnamese State was making efforts to create a more transparent business environment to lure foreign investors, including those from Tunisia.
"Viet Nam has a young population, while it also needs the involvement of foreign investors in such fields as trade, service, finance and credit," he said.
The Vietnamese State leader called upon the two countries' businesses to strengthen co-operation, helping boost the friendship between the two peoples. He also affirmed that Viet Nam wants Tunisian businesses to come to Viet Nam to seek co-operation and investment opportunities.
Late yesterday, President Triet and Viet Nam's high-ranking delegation left Tunisia for Algeria at the invitation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.— VNS