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Interview of Foreign Minister Nguyen Dy Nien about Vietnam's external relations in 2004

Ha Noi, Dec. 31 (VNA) - Viet Nam's foreign relations in 2004 contributed to maintaining a peaceful and stable environment for national development, and supported the country's process of international economic integration, said Foreign Minister Nguyen Dy Nien in a year-end interview granted to Viet Nam News Agency. The following is the full text of the interview:

Q: What is your assessment of Viet Nam's foreign relations over the past year?

A: The country's external activities in 2004 continued to be expanded under the guidance as well as with the direct involvement of leaders of the Party, the State, the National Assembly and the Government, thus reaping encouraging results and contributing greatly to the country's accomplishments.

The external work continued to contribute to maintaining a peaceful and stable environment for national development. Positive changes in the direction of increasing action- and result-oriented cooperation have been made in our relations with all important partners, including neighbouring and regional countries as well as major countries in the world. Due attention has been paid to accelerating regional and international economic integration, while arising problems in external relations have been timely addressed, creating favourable conditions to enhance the country's position in the international arena, contributing to national defence and promoting cooperation especially in economics, trade, investment and tourism.

An outstanding feature of the past year's foreign relations is the great achievement of the country's multi-lateral foreign policy. Viet Nam successfully hosted the fifth Asia-Europe Meeting in Ha Noi, leaving its own imprint on ASEM's development and facilitating the country's multi-faceted cooperation with its partners. Viet Nam has actively participated in and made important contributions to regional and international forums and organisations, such as the 10th ASEAN Summit in Laos, the 12th APEC Summit in Chile, the Francophone Summit in Burkina Faso, and the AIPO Conference in Cambodia. Viet Nam's role and contributions to those forums and organisations have been appreciated by other countries, helping lift the country's image and prestige in the international arena.

External work has greatly aided the country's process of international economic integration. Viet Nam has completed the 9th negotiation round of its entry into the WTO. Bilateral negotiations with six partners, namely the EU, Cuba, Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Singapore, have also concluded, facilitating the country's bilateral talks with the remaining partners.

Activities in support of economic development have been expanded, bringing in many concrete results, helping enterprises tackle difficulties and carry out socio-economic development tasks.

Work relating to overseas Vietnamese has also seen encouraging results, in particular the organisation of the 2004 Summer Camp for young overseas Vietnamese and the decision to allow a number of former high-level officials of the pre-1975 regime to return to the country have served to underline the policy of promoting national unity, closing the past and looking toward the future. After the Political Bureau of the Party Central Committee adopted Resolution 36 on reforming the work concerning overseas Vietnamese, the study and dissemination of information on the resolution are being conducted both inside and outside the country with the aim of stepping up its implementation.

The coordination between the State's foreign policy and external activities of the Party, the National Assembly and the people have been strengthened, resulting in closer links among them and widening the exchange between Vietnamese organisations and people and the world, helping enhance the country's overall power.

The information dissemination and cultural work to serve external relations continued to be reformed with the aim of winning support and guiding public opinion, promoting the image of the country and people in the international arena, and helping counter false and slanderous allegations.

However, the foreign relations sector should make greater efforts to build on its important and practical achievements to contribute more to the national construction and defence.

Q: What is your forecast about the regional and international situations as well as Viet Nam's external activities in 2005?

A: The region and the world might not experience major changes in the year to come, but the situation will remain complicated. Peace, cooperation  and development will still be the major trends in the world. The world economy will continue its recovery trend from 2004, but the growth rate is likely to slow down due to many challenges, especially possible oil price hikes, the threats from infectious diseases, and the development trend of the economies of the United States, China and Japan.

The relations among major powers will continue to be a mixture of cooperation and struggle, constraint and compromise regarding each issue at certain time. There will be little possibility of a major war, but terrorist activities will continue to cause instability in many countries.

Southeast Asia and the Asia-Pacific region will continue to develop at a rapid pace, although many factors continue to threaten stability in the region. Regional cooperation mechanisms will continue to be built and refined.

The process of globalisation and regionalisation in combination with trade and investment  liberalisation as well as economic links will continue to be promoted, but the trend of protectionism  also shows sign of strengthening. The trend of economic links as well as bilateral and regional free trade zones will be further accelerated.

In this context, in order to build on achievements of previous years and make full use of new advantages while reducing the difficulties, Viet Nam needs to continue strengthening and refining existing stable and long-term relationships with its leading partners and neighbouring countries in the region. To be able to do so will help maintain the peaceful, stable and cooperative environment for development, thus increasing the country's potential and raising its position in the international arena, making use of all favourable conditions and external resources for rapid and sustainable socio-economic development as well as for national defence in the new period.

The process of international economic integration should be further accelerated through speeding up and early concluding negotiations for WTO entry, getting prepared in all fields to take advantage of available opportunities and face the challenges arising after attaining WTO membership.

External activities should play a greater role in seeking to expand the market for exports, winning more investment, technology transfer, and management experiences from partners, promoting tourism, and increasing labour export.

The implementation of the Politburo's Resolution 36 on reforming work concerning overseas Vietnamese should be stepped up, the policy making process in this field expedited, creating more favourable conditions for overseas Vietnamese to participate in the country's development.

The information dissemination and cultural work to serve external relations should be renewed and diversified in both content and format to promote the image of Viet Nam's land and people, countering slanderous and distorted allegations, while persuading and guiding public opinion.

All these activities should be guided by the motto "acting according to circumstances", which means maintaining the principle of independence, self-determination and socialist-orientation while dealing with arising issues in a flexible and acute manner, diversifying and multi-lateralising foreign relations so as to serve the common goal of national construction and defence.

Finally, I wish Viet Nam News Agency and the readers a happy new year, health, and new successes.

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