Australian FM talks about Vietnam-Australia relationship ahead of visit hinh anh 1Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop (Photo: Xinhua/VNA)

Sydney (VNA)
– Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has granted an interview to Vietnam News Agency’s correspondents in Sydney on the occasion of her visit to Vietnam from May 26-28.

The following is the full text of the interview:

Q1: Vietnam and Australia have officially upgraded their relationship to “Strategic Partner” in March 2018 during the visit of our Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to Australia and this week, Vietnam welcomed the official visit made by His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove and Her Excellency Lady Cosgrove. What do you think about the development of cooperation between two countries?
I am delighted to be visiting Vietnam during the 45th anniversary year of diplomatic relations between Australia and Vietnam, for my third visit as Foreign Minister.
This busy schedule of high-level bilateral visits reflects the recent elevation of the bilateral relationship to a Strategic Partnership, signed during Prime Minister Phuc’s guest-of-government visit to Australia in March. This means our two nations have recognised and laid the foundation for an ever-stronger partnership.
During this visit I will co-chair the inaugural Foreign Ministers’ Meeting with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Minh. Over the coming years, this meeting will provide a regular opportunity to discuss a range of strategic issues and new areas of collaboration.
Australia’s deep engagement with Vietnam is also shown by our history of support for Vietnam’s economic development. During my visit, I will be participating in the opening ceremony of the Cao Lanh Bridge in the Mekong delta, for which Australia provided A$160 million, which is our largest single aid activity in mainland Southeast Asia. The bridge will create new economic opportunities for the five million people living in the surrounding area by reducing travel times and making it easier for people to access markets - travel time between Ho Chi Minh City and Long Xuyen will be deduced from four to two and a half hours.
Australia and Vietnam’s relationship is underpinned by strong people-to-people links, with around 300,000 Australians of Vietnamese descent in Australia, creating personal and business links with Vietnam. I am looking forward to meeting dynamic Australian-Vietnamese business leaders, entrepreneurs and influences to hear how they are building their own bridges between our countries.
Q2: Australia and Vietnam have established cooperative relations in many areas such as trade, security, national defence, science and technology, education and tourism... what areas of cooperation should be prioritised and what initiatives should be put in place so bilateral cooperation can continue to contribute effectively to the development of each country as well as to peace, security and stability in the region?
The Strategic Partnership establishes a new bilateral ministerial-level architecture which reflects the contemporary and dynamic relationship between our two countries. This provides for a Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, Defence Ministers’ Meeting, and Economic Partnership Meeting. These ministerial-level meetings will provide direction for increased engagement across the breadth of the relationship, including on defence and security, law enforcement, trade, investment, development cooperation, science and technology, innovation, education, tourism and business links. This cooperation will be the foundation for strong economic growth, peace, security and stability in the region.

Q3: What do you think about the cooperation and coordination between Vietnam and Australia in regional and international forums?
Australia is a close long-term partner for Vietnam and we have converging regional interests on a range of issues in the Indo-Pacific region. The East Asia Summit and other ASEAN-centred regional organisations like the ASEAN Regional Forum have a critical role to play to ensure the Indo-Pacific remains open, secure, inclusive and prosperous. Australia demonstrated its commitment to a strong and resilient region, and to ASEAN centrality, by holding the first ASEAN-Australia Special Summit in Sydney in March this year.
Thank you very much.-VNA