Canada to maintain security cooperation with Vietnam hinh anh 1Canadian Minister of National Defence Harjit Singh Sajjan. (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNS/VNA) - Canadian Minister of National Defence Harjit Singh Sajjan talks with the Vietnam News Agency (VNA)'s Viet Nam News on the prospects of Canada-Vietnam defence cooperation and Canada’s commitment to sustain peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region during his visit to Vietnam.

Vietnam and Canada set up a new vision on bilateral relations during the visit of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Vietnam last November, including defence ties. What is the significance of the defence relations between Vietnam and Canada?

This is the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries and we are very proud of that. Our Prime Minister was very happy to visit here and also happy at the comprehensive agreement to move our relationship forward after 45 years. It just shows that the relationship has been built over time.

And now coming to defence, we want to move that relationship forward as well. We want to enhance agreement in military training cooperation. We are able to look at opportunities in which we can enhance military training cooperation: from language training to medical and engineer training.

During this visit, the two ministries of defence have signed a Memorandum of Understanding. How can this foster bilateral relations in the defence sector?

This is another step forward. The military training programme we have in Canada allows us to locate the needs of the military. We have identified three needs that we will move forward with, not only in the agreement but on which we will take action.

Language training is one of them. Regarding medical training, we have really good experience in field hospitals and especially during the deployment of peacekeeping operations. It is also very important in dealing with mines and unexploded ordnances because when we go out of our peacekeeping comfort zones, we have to make sure our soldiers are safe and at the same time, the civilians are kept safe.

Those are a start, but we are also exploring other opportunities. This is another step in deepening our relationship.

Canada is seeking to strengthen its presence in the Asia Pacific by not only promoting economic ties but also building partnerships in security and defence. What role does Vietnam play in Canada’s Asia Pacific strategy?

First of all, Canada’s role in the Asia Pacific is very important. We are a Pacific nation ourselves. We have a significant focus in our defence policy: we will maintain a consistent military engagement in Asia Pacific to help foster peace and security.

Vietnam plays a very important role in peace and security in the region, especially when it comes to looking at not only the maritime perspective but other security challenges that we face together. We worked together on a number of occasions, we talked on many security issues at the Shangri-La Dialogue, and having Vietnam’s perspective is extremely important.

How can Canada help Vietnam in the maritime sector? What is Canada’s view of the current dispute in the South China Sea?  

In terms of maritime cooperation, it is about how we can build the capability for Vietnam. It is not just about operating a vessel but what system you need for management.

Regarding the security issue in the South China Sea, we all have to send a message that any disputes need to be dealt with by international resolutions. We have tribunals that are in place and all nations need to respect international law and freedom of navigation.

That is Canada’s position in terms of security in the region. We will have a consistent presence in the Asia Pacific to promote peace and security so we can be relied upon to deal with threats.-VNA