Vietnam attaches importance to developing its friendship and multifaceted cooperation with traditional friendly countries in Central and Eastern Europe, including Bulgaria , a Vietnamese government official said.

Permanent Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Sinh Hung made the statement during a meeting with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov in the capital city of Sofia on July 8.

Hung, who has been on an official visit to Bulgarian since July 6, proposed that Bulgaria support Vietnam ’s effort to enhance comprehensive relations with the European Union (EU) by backing its negotiations on the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with the EU and urging the bloc to recognise Vietnam ’s market economy status as early as possible.

Vietnam , as an active member and Chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2010, is willing to assist Bulgaria in promoting cooperative ties with ASEAN member countries, he said.

The deputy PM congratulated Bulgaria on the achievements it has reaped in the reform process, as well as in improving its position and role in the region and the world, and its admission to the EU.

PM Borisov said the Government of Bulgaria always considers Vietnam a strategic partner and wants to step up comprehensive cooperation with the country.

Also on July 8, Deputy PM Hung met with Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism Traycho Traykov and together with him attended the opening of a Vietnam-Bulgaria Business Forum.

The two officials witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding on cooperation between businesses from the two countries, which is aimed at boosting two-way trade from a 22 percent drop in 2009 to 70 million USD due to the adverse impacts of the global financial and economic crisis.

Later in the day, Hung visited Plovdiv city where he was received by the provincial Governor Ivan Totev./.