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President Tran Duc Luong’s interview with The Korea Times

Question 1: What do the ROK - Vietnam summit talks mean for bilateral relations?


In this visit to Vietnam by the Republic of Korea’s President Roh Moo-Hyun, high-level talks is of great significance, especially in boosting the implementation of the high-level agreement reached in August 2001 on building the "comprehensive partnership in the 21st century" between Vietnam and the Republic of Korea. At the high-level talks, the two sides will take stock of the past growth of bilateral relations and discuss ways and means to further the future bonds, especially in the economic and trade fields, with a view to elevating the bilateral ties to a higher plane in the interest of the two peoples and that of peace, stability and development in Asia-Pacific and the world at large.

Question 2: Many Korean companies are operating in Vietnam, particularly in mobile communications and construction. What kind of economic cooperation do you see in the future?


Viet Nam welcomes increased cooperation and investment from ROK’s businesses in the labour-intensive areas, manufacturing, mining, oil and gas exploration and exploitation, oil refinery and petrochemical, energy, transportation, construction, aquaculture and agro-fishery processing for export, and especially the areas the ROK has the advantage, such as electronics, telecommunications, information technology, etc. While all relevant and mutually beneficial forms of economic cooperation are welcomed, Viet Nam is particularly interested in and encourages the forms of cooperation which facilitate technology transfer and experience sharing to help increase the competitiveness of goods produced in Vietnam.

Question 3: Vietnam and South Korea have a large trade imbalance. How would you like this situation to change?


The ROK is the fourth largest trading partner of Vietnam. The two way trade volume in 2003 reached US$ 3.116 billion and the figure for the first 5 months this year amounted to nearly US$ 1.6 billion. However, the most outstanding issue is Viet Nam’s continued trade deficit (US$ 1.8 billion and US$ 2.132 billion in 2002 and 2003 respectively). In order to fix this problem, Viet Nam suggests that the ROK increase its import of Vietnamese farm produce, such as shrimp, fish and fruits with priority given to regular import of Viet Nam’s rice.

Question 4:Vietnam and South Korea both have a tragic history of war in the later half of the 20th century. Could you comment on similarities and differences in their post – war development?


It is true that in the later half the 20th century, Vietnam and the ROK had an unhappy history. Nevertheless, with the tradition of tolerance, humanity and peace and friendship, Vietnam’s policy in dealing with issues left behind by history is to put aside the past, look forward to the future and cooperate for shared development. The ROK also shares the understanding that sincere and effective cooperation with Vietnam in addressing consequences of the war is a matter of morality and a practical way to overcome the complex about the past.

We highly appreciate that fact that the ROK’s Government, mass organizations and individuals have carried out many activities aimed at and made concrete contributions to helping Vietnam’s reconstruction and development efforts. In just over 10 years since the establishment of the diplomatic relations, Vietnam and the ROK have become each other’s important partner. The two countries share cultural and historical similarities well as that of national construction built on people’s creativeness.


Question 5: What is Vietnam’s view of the international dispute over North Korean nuclear weapons Program and the six-way talks aimed at resolving it?


Viet Nam follows with keen interest the developments on the Korean Peninsula, supports the denuclearization of the Peninsula, and is of the views that the advances of nuclear science should only be used for peaceful purposes. Our position is that differences on the nuclear issue should be settled by peaceful means through dialogues, on the basis of respect for national sovereignty and international law.

In this spirit, Viet Nam applauds efforts by parties concerned, including the convening of the six-party talks, to narrow the differences and soon reach a final satisfactory solution to the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, thus helping maintain peace and stability in the region and the world.

Question 6:Exchanges between political leadars from South Korea and Vietnam are relatively rare. Do you see a greater level of exchange in the furure? Do you have any plan to visit Seoul during your term?


The bilateral relations saw rapid growth with high productivity in many areas even though the diplomatic ties were only established over ten years ago. Both countries attach importance to the exchange of visits, especially at high levels, considering it an important driving force to the development of the bilateral relations. In view of this, most of high-level leaders of Viet Nam and the Republic of Korea have exchanged visits in recent years. As the two countries have concluded the agreement on "building a comprehensive partnership in the 21st century", I believe high-level visits will be made on a more regular basis. I visited Korea in 2001, and hope to have the opportunity to return to your beautiful and hospitable country.

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