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Vietnam enhances diplomatic ties with China, ASEAN neighbors
Minh Vu 22:24, 2021/06/08
Vietnam’s top diplomat met his counterparts of three neighboring countries during the ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.

Vietnam’s Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son has held separate meetings with his Cambodian, Chinese, and Laotian counterparts to strengthen bilateral relations.

The meetings took place on the sidelines of the Special ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Chongqing, China on June 6-8.

Vietnam's Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son (L) and China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Chongqing, China on June 8. Photo: VNA 

On June 8, Bui Thanh Son met China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, talking about further high-level common perceptions and the fight against Covid-19.

Son tweeted that the two diplomats had a “cordial and fruitful conversation” in which they discussed measures to strengthen Vietnam-China relations, promote cooperation, and maintain peace and stability in the region.

The Vietnamese diplomat proposed that both sides should seriously realize high-level common perceptions and abide by international law, particularly the 1982 UNCLOS, uphold the role of negotiation mechanisms, and seek basic and long-term solutions for the issue.

Regarding economic ties, they pledged to lift economic ties in a practical and balanced manner.

Earlier on June 4 in the phone talks with China’s Premier Li Keqiang, Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh also asked the Chinese side to take drastic measures to narrow the trade gap and boost the import of Vietnamese farm produce, mostly seasonal fruits like lychee, mango, dragon fruit, and longan.

The Vietnamese leaders also asked Chinese partners to speed up projects in Vietnam, including the long-stalled Cat Linh-Ha Dong Urban Railway in Hanoi.

Vietnam's Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son (L) and Cambodia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn in China on June 7. Photo: MoFA

On June 7, Bui Thanh Son talked with Cambodia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn on a wide range of issues, including the livelihood of people of Vietnamese origin in Cambodia during Covid-19, according to Son’s tweet. He described the bilateral relations are of “good neighborliness, traditional friendship, and comprehensive cooperation.”

The two diplomats agreed to boost the bilateral cooperation mechanisms, including the Joint Committee on Economic, Cultural, Scientific, and Technological Cooperation chaired by the two foreign ministries.

In terms of economics, the two countries pledged to boost border trade, including the resumed operations of the Tan Nam (Vietnam’s Tay Ninh Province)-Mon Chay (Cambodia’s Prey Veng Province) Border Gate on May 31. In the first four months this year, the two-way trade soared 122% to US$3.89 billion.

At the meeting, Son expressed Vietnam’s support to Cambodia’s hosting of the 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in November 2021 and the ASEAN Chair in 2022.

The two countries will celebrate the 55th anniversary of bilateral relations in 2022.

In the face of Covid-19, Cambodia is one of the biggest recipients of Vietnam’s relief that has been delivered three different times in April 2020, April 2021, and May 2021, including 800 ventilators, two million medical facemasks, 300,000 N95 masks, other medical equipment, and an amount worth US$500,000 to Cambodia.

Vietnam's Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son (R) and Laos’ Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith. Photo: MoFA

On June 6, the Vietnamese minister had “a warm and substantive meeting with Laos’ Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith” when they discussed special relationships, regional issues of mutual concern, and cooperation between the two Foreign Ministries, Son tweeted.

The highlight of the meeting is economic diplomacy for the 2020-2025 period that the two ministers stressed the importance of. Accordingly, they discussed the cooperation in economic projects, especially cross-border transport ones connecting to Lao-Viet International Port (Vung Ang Port) in the central province of Ha Tinh.

The port is an international seaport serving cargo transportation to Laos, Northeastern Thailand, and the central provinces of Vietnam. It can accommodate cargo ships of up to 50,000 DWT and container ships of up to 2,000 TEU.

Vietnam has traditional comprehensive strategic partnerships with Laos and Cambodia. 

The two countries signed the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation in 1977, which was renewed in 2002. It states that the “two sides will do their best to defend and develop the Laos-Vietnam special relationship, and to constantly strengthen solidarity and mutual trust, long-term cooperation, and mutual assistance in all fields.”

Vietnam reached an agreement with Cambodia on historically disputed waters in the Gulf of Thailand in 1982. According to this agreement, the two states would negotiate to determine maritime boundaries in these waters at a suitable time.

Defense ties between Vietnam and Cambodia have also strengthened in the past decade, with Vietnam continuing support to Cambodia, including military equipment and personnel training. In January 2017, their defense ministers signed a Defense Cooperation Plan in which delegation exchanges, deputy ministerial-level defense policy dialogues, joint marine patrols, and border work are prioritized.

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