Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi will pay an official visit to Vietnam from June 9-10 at the invitation of his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Tan Dung.

Matteo’s visit, the first one of an Italian PM to Vietnam since the two countries set up diplomatic ties in 1973, is expected to contribute to further fostering their strategic partnership.

Italy is the first Western European nation to support the cooperation between Vietnam and the European Union as well as the normalisation of ties between Vietnam and international financial, trade, monetary organisations in the early 1990s.

During meetings between the two sides’ high-ranking officials, the Italian side has always affirmed its policy to promote all-round relations with Vietnam , which it considers a priority partner in Southeast Asia.

Vietnam and Italy lifted their ties to a strategic partnership on the occasion of General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam ( CPV ) Nguyen Phu Trong’s visit to Italy in January last year. They later signed an action plan to implement the strategic partnership during Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai’s Italy visit in September the same year.

Two-way trade between the two countries also saw a high growth in recent years, reaching 3.5 billion USD in 2013. Italy has listed Vietnam in its list of 10 emerging markets prioritized for trade and investment ties.

Statistics of the Ministry of Planning and Investment showed Italy ranked 29 th among 100 countries and territories investing in Vietnam last year, with 53 projects worth 294 million USD.

Italy began its provision of official development aid (ODA) for Vietnam from the 1980s. Priority cooperation fields between the two countries are water works, environment, human resource development and health.-VNA