Defence officers of Vietnam and the UK pose for a photo (Photo: Defence Attaché Office at the Vietnamese Embassy in the UK)

London (VNA) – UK military officers have pledged to facilitate the transfer of a level-2 field hospital in South Sudan to Vietnamese control while meeting with Vietnamese officers who are visiting the UK from May 16-20.

The Vietnamese delegation, led by Sen. Lt. Gen. Pham Ngoc Minh – Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Vietnam People’s Army, had working sessions with the UK Ministry of Defence and the General Staff of the British Armed Forces, and visited the Army Medical Services Training Centre in York. The two ministries agreed to strengthen cooperation in peacekeeping.

At the Permanent Joint Headquarters, Chief of Joint Operations Lt. Gen. John Lorimer affirmed that leaders of the General Staff of the British Army and the army’s medical department will support the transfer of the UK’s level-2 field hospital in South Sudan to Vietnam’s army.

Sen. Lt. Gen. Minh told Vietnam News Agency that their visit to the UK Ministry of Defence and the General Staff of the British Armed Forces aimed to reiterate Vietnam’s readiness to take over the field hospital from the UK in the second quarter of 2018.

The Vietnamese side also asked the UK to support Vietnam’s takeover of the hospital in the United Nations, he added.

At the meeting, the two sides shared experience in logistics and technical issues and negotiating with the UN and South Sudan to facilitate the transfer of the field hospital.

Minh said officers of the British Army Command, the Joint Forces Command and the UK Defence Ministry affirmed that they will support Vietnam in deployment and training and provide the best possible conditions for the transfer.

During their stay, the Vietnamese delegation visited the 2nd Medical Brigade and the Army Medical Services Training Centre in Strensall, York. Seven Vietnamese officers who will join the level-2 field hospital are taking part in an exercise with their British counterparts from May 11-21 there.

Colonel Hoang Kim Phung, Director of the Vietnam Peacekeeping Centre, said the visit is of importance since both ministries of defence were committed to assisting a third country in the UN peacekeeping operations. This was also an occasion for Vietnam’s peacekeeping force to learn from the UK’s experience.

Colonel Vo Van Thanh, Defence Attaché of the Vietnamese Embassy in the UK, said bilateral defence ties have been reinforced in recent years and become an important pillar in the two countries’ strategic partnership.

In a Vietnam visit by Minister of State for Defence Earl Howe last April, the two ministries signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on defence cooperation which replaced the 2011 MoU. This time’s trip to the UK aimed to implement the new MoU.

In an overall plan on Vietnam’s participation in the UN peacekeeping operations, the country targets one or two level-2 field hospitals being simultaneously deployed. In the initial stage, the takeover of the UK’s field hospital in South Sudan is one of the top priorities.-VNA