Vietnamese Defence Minister Gen. Ngo Xuan Lich (R) and his Australian counterpart Christopher Pyne ink the Vietnam-Australia Declaration on Joint Visions for Enhancing Defence Cooperation on November 8 (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – The Embassy of Australia in Vietnam celebrated the 20th anniversary of the two countries’ defence relations at a ceremony in Hanoi on November 27.

The event was attended by Deputy Director of the Vietnam People’s Army (VPA)’s General Department of Politics, Lieutenant General Le Hien Van, gathering Vietnamese military personnel who used to visit or receive training in Australia under defence cooperation programmes.

In his remarks, Van said Vietnam – Australia relations have seen constant progress since the two countries set up diplomatic ties in February, 1973, adding that bilateral defence cooperation in recent years has flourished in multiple areas, particularly exchange of visits, consultancy and dialogue, training, UN peacekeeping missions, air and naval operation and counter-terrorism.

He noted that cooperation in training has laid a solid foundation for the two defence ministries to expand their ties.

Australia is the leading native English speaking provider of language and professional development courses for Vietnamese service personnel, the officer said.

He expected the event would be an opportunity for military officers from Vietnam to pay tribute to their Australian lecturers.

Defence relations between Vietnam and Australia were formalised in February 1999, when an Australian Defence Attaché was posted to Hanoi.

The Vietnam – Australia Defence relationship has developed significantly since the Memorandum of Understanding for Defence Cooperation was signed by the two Defence Ministers in November 2010. Australia has begun to engage the VPA in practical activities, such as limited training activities between the two Navies and Special Forces personnel, according to the Australian Embassy in Vietnam.

Since 2012, an annual joint Foreign Affairs/Defence Australia-Vietnam Strategic Dialogue has been held at Deputy-Secretary and Vice-Minister levels.

Australia has also led in providing English language and specialist training to VPA peacekeepers in 2014 prior to their inaugural UN peacekeeping deployment to South Sudan.

Vietnam hosted the sixth round of the Dialogue on 10 October 2018.  The two nations also conduct annual Australia-Vietnam Defence Cooperation Senior Officials' talks.

Earlier this month, the two sides inked the Declaration on Joint Visions for Enhancing Defence Cooperation during a visit of Vietnamese Defence Minister General Ngo Xuan Lich to Australia. –VNA