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Switzerland pledges continued ODA priority for Vietnam

Hanoi (VNA) – Switzerland has pledged to keep Vietnam in its priority recipients list of Swiss official development assistance (ODA), committing to increasing its ODA grant for the Asian country by 20 percent this year over 2008.

During recent working sessions with Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan, Swiss government officials, including Vice President and Minister for Economics Doris Leuthard, Minister for Home Affairs Pascal Couchepin, and State Secretary for Education and Research Mauro Dell Ambrogio, expressed their satisfaction with Vietnam ’s efficient use of ODA.

They said Swiss ODA assistance to Vietnam will focus on helping the country’s economic integration and expanding bilateral cooperation to new fields such as climate change, food security and migration.

The Swiss leaders appreciated Vietnam ’s socio-economic development achievements, particularly in poverty reduction, heath care and education, and international economic integration.

They said they were delighted at the strong development of the bilateral friendship and multilateral cooperation over the recent time, and exchanged views with Deputy PM Nhan on concrete measures to boost the cooperation in prioritised fields such as economy, trade, investment, and education and training.

The two sides agreed that the bilateral cooperation in trade and investment is keeping a good pace while great potentials are still ahead.

Deputy PM Nhan said Vietnam applauded Switzerland ’s idea of signing a free trade agreement (FTA) between Vietnam and the European Free Trade Area (EFTA), which covers Switzerland , Norway , Iceland and Liechtenstein , in order to boost trade and investment cooperation between the group and Vietnam .

The Swiss side also suggested opening a direct air route between Vietnam and Switzerland as the number of Swiss tourists and business people travelling to Vietnam has been increasing, with more than 20,000 visitors in 2008.

Switzerland promised to boost education and training cooperation with Vietnam , with priority given to personnel training in tourism, finance-banking, and some hi-tech industries such as nuclear energy and nano technology.

The European country promised to help Vietnam train 10-15 doctor-degree holders every year, including the provision of 2-3 full scholarships, and facilitate exchange and joint research between the two countries’ universities.

The two sides agreed to map out a programme for government-level education and training cooperation for the 2012-2015 period.

The two sides also agreed to intensify cooperation between their Foreign Ministries. On the occasion, Vietnam and Switzerland initialed an agreement on visa exemption for diplomatic passport holders.

Deputy PM Nhan paid a working visit to Switzerland on Feb. 2-3.-

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