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Major features of Vietnam's external relations in 2004

Last year, diplomatic activities were conducted in various forms, contributing to preserving a peaceful and stable environment for Vietnam's development and to promoting the country's economic integration into the region and the world.

1. The most prominent diplomatic event in 2004 is the successful hosting of ASEM 5 in Hanoi. With the participation of 39 members, the Summit marked the ASEM's enlargement. The Summit adopted important documents, including three Statements (Chairman's Statement, Hanoi Declaration on closer Asia-Europe economic partnership and ASEM Declaration on dialogue between cultures and civilizations) and nine initiatives, two of them were co-sponsored by Vietnam.

The successes of ASEM 5 and related activities reinforced Vietnam's image as a country of peace, stability, cooperation and friendship, a reliable partner and an attractive destination for businessmen, tourists and investors, which is actively integrating into the region and the world. These successes also deepened the cooperation between Vietnam and other ASEM member countries.

2. Vietnam continues to promote and broaden friendly relationship and mutually beneficial cooperation with other countries and regions.

Most notably are official visits to Germany, Cuba, Belgium and the European Commission by General Secretary Nong Duc Manh; to Bangladesh, Pakistan, Russia, Hungary, the UK, Brazil, Chile and Argentina by State President Tran Duc Luong; to Malaysia, China, Mongolia, Morocco, Algeria and South Africa and a working visit to Singapore by Prime Minister Phan Van Khai.

Receiving high-level foreign delegations, Vietnam contributed to consolidating and promoting cooperative relations in the region and the world.

Vietnam continued to build, strengthen and perfect long-term and stable partnership frameworks with many countries, particularly key partners.

2.1 Relations with neighboring countries:

The friendly and cooperative relations with China continued to be consolidated and enhanced on the basis of agreed cooperation framework (sixteen-word guidelines). Delegation exchanges and high-level political dialogues were maintained. Prime Minister Phan Van Khai and Foreign Minister Nguyen Dy Nien visited China in May and June respectively. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao's visit to Vietnam in October 2004 marked a significant step in bilateral relations towards greater mutual understanding and trust. The two sides would make full use of existing potentials in order to lift economic relations, trade and investment to the same level of political relations. The two sides signed the Additional Protocol on Fishery Cooperation and ratified the Agreement on the Tonkin Gulf Delimitation and Agreement on Fishery Cooperation in the Tonkin Gulf.

The traditional friendship with Laos continued to be strengthened. Cooperation between Ministries, sectors and localities gained more successes. High-level meetings, meetings of the Joint Committee and meetings between ministries and sectors helped promote comprehensive cooperation between the two countries.

The relationship with Cambodia continued to develop. Various programs and projects have been implemented. Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam Development Triangle witnessed a crucial step with the endorsement of Vientiane Declaration on Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam Development Triangle and the Master Plan.

2.2 Relations with South East Asian, South Asian and South Pacific countries:

Vietnam continued to strengthen and promote the friendly relations and multi-faceted cooperation with important partners in South East Asia, South Asia and South Pacific, and step up the establishment of stable, long- term and mutual-trust cooperation framework with other countries in the region.

In South East Asia, after signing Joint Declarations on Framework of Comprehensive Cooperation with the Philippines (2002) and Indonesia (2003), Vietnam continued its efforts to sign the Joint Declaration with Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia in the 21st Century during the visits to these countries by Vietnamese leaders in 2004.

Vietnam's relations with ASEAN underwent more developments last year. Vietnam actively participated in ASEAN's activities and made important contribution to the Association’s development.

Regarding South Asia, Vietnam reached agreements on framework of cooperation with India and Pakistan, two important countries. The multi-faceted cooperation between Vietnam and India continued to be maintained. The two countries solemnly celebrated the 50th anniversary of the meeting between President Ho Chi Minh and Premier Nehru.

Vietnam’s relations with Australia and New Zealand continued to be improved with the first official visits to these two countries by National Assembly's Chairman Nguyen Van An (6/2004) and Foreign Minister Nguyen Dy Nien.

2.3 North East Asia:

The relations with Japan continued to be promoted. The two sides exchanged a number of high level visits in many fields; Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi and Foreign Minister Kawaguchi visited Vietnam in October 2004. Japan remained committed to keeping its ODA to Vietnam relatively high with a larger amount year on year.

Regarding the ROK, the two countries have been making efforts to implement the high-level agreement on the Vietnam-ROK relation as "Comprehensive Partnership in the 21st century" (ROK President Roh Moo Hyun paid an official visit to Vietnam during ASEM 5 and Vietnamese National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Van An visited the ROK in July 2004).

2.4 Americas:

Given the 2003 impetus, Vietnam-U.S relations continued to be strengthened and developed. The two sides exchanged a number of high-level visits by delegations from the Governments, Parliaments, businesses and NGOs. The relations between the two countries were expanded in many fields. The economic and trade relations between the two countries were also broadened and deepened.

Vietnam-Canada relations continued to develop, particularly in the fields of economics, trade, tourism, aid and education.

Vietnam-Cuba relationship was strengthened. The two countries focused on the improvement of effectiveness in accordance with their potentials and strengths. The two sides also conducted many visit exchanges during the year.

The relations with other Latin American countries were also improved and expanded.

2.5 Vietnam- North West Europe relations:

Vietnam - EU relations continued to develop in many fields. 25 EU countries sent high-level delegations to ASEM 5 in Hanoi. The first high-level meeting between Vietnam-EU was held in Hanoi. The two sides finished the bilateral negotiation on Vietnam's accession to WTO. The economic- trade relations between the two sides also recorded encouraging developments. EU is one of the most important trade partners of Vietnam.

In 2004, many high-ranking delegations of Vietnam also paid working visits to countries in Northwest Europe.

2.6 Relations with the Federation of Russia and the Eastern European countries:

Vietnam-Russia relations underwent fine and steady developments. Relations with such countries in the Eastern European countries and the SNG as Poland, Czech, Hungary, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova enjoyed new developments. The exchange of delegations including high-ranking ones was maintained. Many important agreements and documents on cooperation were signed.

2.7 Relations with countries in West Asia and Africa:

Relations with countries in Africa and West Asia constitute a significant component in the foreign policy and international integration of Vietnam. Vietnam attaches importance to strengthening and expanding relations with major partners in the region. Vietnam has been implementing the Action Program with Africa. In 2004, the exchange of delegations between Vietnam and countries in Africa was promoted. The economic and trade ties between Vietnam and some countries in Africa robustly developed.

3. Multilateral diplomatic activities have been intensively stepped up and played an increasingly important role in maintaining peaceful environment for industrialization and modernization, enhancing the position and image of Vietnam in the international arena.

4. Great importance is attached to the task of "Diplomacy for economic development": Foreign activities were aimed at maintaining and promoting economic and trade ties, tourism and investment with other countries and helping settle disputes with foreign partners in this respect. Much focus and priority were given to economic issues in foreign affairs within bilateral and multilateral cooperation frameworks and mechanisms through visits and contacts by Vietnamese high-ranking leaders and through other diplomatic activities at various levels... Vietnamese representative missions abroad have proactively searched for new markets, conducting trade and investment promotion activities. Vietnam has also actively maintained and developed economic and trade relations with other countries, particularly major partners such as China, Japan, the US and EU. Vietnam continues fulfilling its commitment to the AFTA roadmap.

5. Vietnam's participation in international conventions: From January to October 2004, Vietnam signed 97 international conventions, 83 of which were bilateral agreements and 5 multilateral ones. These international conventions have formed necessary legal framework conducive to Vietnam’s cooperation with her partners in many fields.

II. Orientations of Vietnam’s foreign activities in the time to come:

Foreign activities of Vietnam in the immediate future will certainly further recorded achievements and development momentum of foreign affairs in the past year to facilitate socio-economic development and national security safeguard.

To this end, Vietnam's foreign activities will focus on the following:

Consolidate and perfect the existing framework of long-term and stable relations with priority partners.

Actively assist the overcoming of difficulties that may emerge in economic and trade relations with foreign partners, enhance the role of diplomacy in searching and expanding export markets, attracting foreign investment and ODA, promoting tourism and international labor cooperation.

Accelerate international economic integration, especially the process of forming bilateral and multilateral free trade areas; actively strive for accession to the WTO in 2005.

Intensify activities at multilateral fora, upholding Vietnam's role and position in the international arena; get well prepared for the hosting of APEC in 2006.

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