I leave Australia tomorrow to visit Vietnam for talks with my counterpart, Defence Minister General Phung Quang Thanh.
This will be my third visit to Vietnam as an Australian Government Minister and my second as Minister for Defence. I will be accompanied by the Secretary of the Department of Defence, Mr Duncan Lewis.
I look forward to discussing Australia’s growing Defence relationship with Vietnam, together with regional security issues of mutual interest.
While in Hanoi, I will visit the National Defense College, the Special Forces Officers School and the Vietnam People’s Army Commissioning School.
Vietnam is emerging as a strong influence in ASEAN and its related forums. As Vietnam continues to develop, Australia welcomes it taking a greater role in contributing to regional stability and security.
The growing Defence-to-Defence and Military-to-Military relationship between Australia and Vietnam is based on our mutual interest in regional security and strengthening ties through regional and multilateral engagement. In October 2010 Vietnam hosted the inaugural ASEAN-Plus Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM-Plus), which I attended.
Australia is committed to building these relations through senior level dialogue and practical cooperation.
In recent years, Australia’s Defence Cooperation Program with Vietnam has expanded considerably to include capacity building for United Nations Peacekeeping missions and Special Forces engagement. This expands on traditional cooperation in officer training and English language training.
I welcome in particular enhanced practical cooperation and training between Australia and Vietnam on peacekeeping.
Australia has been pleased to provide training to 80 Vietnamese personnel who are preparing for deployment to UN peacekeeping missions.
Australia and Vietnam have boosted naval cooperation, including a program of regular ship visits. HMAS Sydney will visit Vietnam in October.
Australia offers over 80 places to Vietnam People’s Army personnel to take part in English language training in Australia each year.
Australia also trains over 100 personnel in English skills each year at the Vietnam People’s Army Commissioning School. I look forward to opening a second Australian-sponsored English language laboratory at the Military Technical Academy, which will train over 700 Vietnamese students annually.
Mr Smith’s Office: Ellen Shields (02) 6277 7800 or 0400 347 473
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