Cultural diplomacy is expected to be taught as a subject in several major universities by the end of this year as part of a Government promotion strategy.

The deployment of the strategy will be closely combined with overseas diplomatic activities. However, it will also be used internally to promote matters of national interest and importance.

The Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, the Hanoi University of Culture (HUC), the Academy of Journalism and Communication (AJC) and several other universities will take part in the scheme.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the strategy would help speed up cultural diplomacy in the next decade to broaden the international community's understandings of Vietnam and to consolidate ties with other nations.

Pham Minh Son, Dean of International Relations of the Academy of Journalism and Communications in Hanoi , said the strategy on cultural diplomacy would be closely combined with overseas activities.

In fact, he added, cultural diplomacy had been used overseas in recent years, but the new strategy would officially make it one of the three pillars of Vietnam 's modern foreign policy.

Son said the new orientation is intended to produce "information ambassadors" who would promote better socio-economic integration with the rest of the world.

He said that cultural diplomacy is, in the broad sense, a way to aid the implementation of the objectives of foreign affairs. It is "soft power" devised to support political and economic diplomacy.

Son said cultural diplomacy could become involved in traditional cultural events and used to expand cultural clubs at universities.

Nguyen Thi Que, Deputy Head of the Institute of International Relations at the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics and Public Administration, said that the strategy could be useful at all levels of society.

Que said that cultural diplomacy could be employed in many ways and for various purposes.

In the public sector, the Government or publicly motivated organisations could use cultural diplomacy to promote matters of national interest, or provide information on countries or regions.

Cultural diplomacy could therefore be seen as a vital foundation for all political activities. In civil society, many non-governmental organisations and individuals could also use it.

Que said that teaching cultural diplomacy in universities and schools would call for a course with suitable content and itinerary, time-frame for development, executive measures, and funding.

She said she agreed with the policy of establishing cultural diplomacy at universities and schools of arts and culture.

Nguyen Thi Loan, a sociology student at the AJC, said that she always wanted to understand more about the culture of other countries. The cultural-sociology subject she studied at the academy could also help her learn cultural-psychology and to develop her cultural communications.

Nguyen Hoang Yen, a student at the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, said she had come to know about cultural diplomacy as a first-year student at university. "It is reflected in cultural events, books and advertising for festivals. It is an exciting subject," she added.

Son said cultural diplomacy could also be used to produce a series of programmes to teach Vietnamese to Vietnamese abroad and to preserve their knowledge of Vietnamese culture.

This could be done in bilateral and multi-lateral forums through UNESCO, ASEAN, ASEM, EAS and other organisations.

By 2020, Vietnam plans to set up at least five informational-cultural centres in key regions.

Que said that there already were Vietnamese cultural and historical museums in a few countries, such as Russia and France . Setting up cultural centres in other countries would be a practical way to help Vietnam 's agencies abroad provide adequate information about Vietnam . /.