Today in Canberra, I hosted Vietnam’s Minister of National Defense, General Phung Quang Thanh, for the inaugural Annual Australia-Vietnam Defence Ministers’ Meeting.
Minister Thanh and I also laid a wreath at the Australian War Memorial and called upon the Governor?General, Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce.
During our discussions, Minister Thanh and I examined progress in our bilateral Defence relationship and agreed steps to further strengthen cooperation. We also discussed issues of mutual interest, including the promotion of security and prosperity in our region.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Australia and Vietnam. Over that period our two countries have developed a close and prosperous relationship.
This includes a strong defence relationship, which has grown in recent years based on practical cooperation, people-to-people links and dialogue on strategic and defence issues.
In recognition of this during my visit to Vietnam in October 2010, Minister Thanh and I signed the Australia-Vietnam Memorandum of Understanding on Defence Cooperation.
During today’s inaugural Annual Australia-Vietnam Defence Ministers’ Meeting, Minister Thanh and I agreed to further practical steps to enhance our defence relationship and to progress bilateral defence initiatives: we agreed that Australia and Vietnam would conduct an Annual ‘1.5 track’ Defence dialogue following the successful conduct of the first such dialogue in Hanoi on 12 March this year.
This will bring together experts to share opinions and views on regional issues and to discuss methods to enhance bilateral cooperation.
I was also pleased to advise Minister Thanh that Australia will assist Vietnam as it prepares to deploy troops on United Nations peacekeeping missions for the first time. Australia will provide training to Vietnam People’s Army troops preparing to deploy on United Nations peacekeeping missions in the future.
As well, Australia will offer more than 80 places to Vietnam People’s Army personnel this year and next year to take part in military and English language training in Australia.
This will include a further post-graduate scholarship position for the Vietnam People’s Army in 2014, in addition to an extra position already offered this year. This will bring the total number of post?graduate scholarship positions offered to Vietnam to 11 in 2013 and 12 in 2014.
Minister Thanh and I also undertook to look for further opportunities to enhance military engagement, including in areas such as maritime security cooperation.
Minister Smith's Office: Sacha Fenton (02) 6277 7800 or 0467 784 528