Official visit to set historic milestone in Vietnam-DPRK relations hinh anh 1Chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) and the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Jong-un walked out of the Dong Dang station after his arrival in Vietnam on February 26 (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – The official friendship visit to Vietnam by Chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) and the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Jong-un is expected to set a historic milestone in relations between the two countries.

The trip, made at the invitation of General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) Central Committee and President of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong, comes 60 years after the first visit to Vietnam by then leader of the DPRK Kim Il-sung in 1958 and is ahead of the 70th founding anniversary of bilateral diplomatic ties (January 31) in 2020.

The bilateral relations, founded and fostered by President Ho Chi Minh and leader Kim Il-sung, have been increasingly strengthened over the last seven decades, as seen through mutual visits, with more than 50 delegations at ministerial level and above.

From July 8-12, 1957, then President of Vietnam Ho Chi Minh paid the first official visit to the DPRK.

More than one year later, Premier Kim Il-sung made a visit to Vietnam from November 28 to December 2, 1958. Many Vietnamese people took to the streets to welcome the DPRK leader. During this visit, the two countries issued a joint statement and signed a trade agreement.

The DPRK leader returned for another trip to Vietnam in 1964.

Since the late 2000s, diplomatic ties between the two countries have been considerably strengthened with trips to the DPRK by CPV General Secretary Nong Duc Manh in 2007 and by Minister of Public Security Le Hong Anh in 2008, along with visits to Vietnam by Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK Kim Yong-nam in 2001 and Premier Kim Yong-il in 2007.

A highlight in bilateral relations is the Vietnam-DPRK Friendship Kindergarten in Hanoi and the Vietnam-DPRK Friendship Kyongsang Kindergarten in Pyongyang. The construction and facilities of the Hanoi school were supported by the DPRK.

Vietnam offered the DPRK 100 tonnes of rice aid in 1995 and another 13,000 tonnes in 1997. From 2000 to 2012, it supported the DPRK with 22,700 tonnes of rice, 5 tonnes of material rubber, and 50,000 USD in emergency aid. It offered 70,000 USD in flood relief to the North Asian nation in 2016.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the DPRK helped to give training to hundreds of Vietnamese students. At present, its Education Commission and the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training are promoting the signing of an educational cooperation agreement.

Meanwhile, since 2013, Vietnam has sent arts troupes every two years to attend the April spring arts festival in Pyongyang.

Shortly after arriving in Hanoi for the second summit with the US on February 26, Chairman Kim Jong-un visited the DPRK Embassy and urged the embassy’s staff to work harder to promote the cooperation and friendship between the two parties and states.

Over the past few years, the two countries have held rotational policy discussions at the deputy foreign ministerial level and meetings of the Inter-Governmental Committee for economic, scientific, and technical cooperation.

Many important deals have been inked, including agreements on cultural cooperation, scientific-technical cooperation, trade and navigation, healthcare and civil air transport cooperation.

In 2002, the two sides signed agreements on sea transport, trade, mutual legal assistance, investment promotion and protection, and double-taxation avoidance.

During a visit to Vietnam in November 2018, DPRK Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho emphasised the DPRK Party and Government’s consistent stance of treasuring and fostering the traditional friendship with Vietnam. The DPRK side also agreed to coordinate with Vietnam to consider suitable measures for reinforcing bilateral ties.

During the visit, the two sides also agreed to keep working closely at international and regional forums like the United Nations, the Non-Aligned Movement, and the ASEAN Regional Forum, as well as to increase the exchange of views on issues of common concern.

Most recently, from February 12 to 14, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh paid an official visit to the DPRK. He affirmed that Vietnam attaches importance to developing the time-tested friendship with the party, government, and people of the DPRK.

Aside from the bilateral friendship, the two countries’ economic links have also continually been strengthened, although they remain modest.

Bilateral trade reached 8 million USD in 2014 and 11.6 million USD in 2015. Vietnam’s exports to the DPRK were estimated at 2.99 million USD in 2016, 7.32 million USD in 2017, and 497,000 USD in the first nine months of 2018.

This latest official visit to Vietnam by Chairman Kim Jong-un aims to step up cooperation between the two parties and countries in line with each country’s interests, laws, and international commitments and thereby contributing to regional peace, cooperation, and development. –VNA