Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and his Malaysan counterpart signed the joint statement on framework for the bilateral strategic partnership. (Source: VNA)

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s visits to Malaysia and Singapore from August 7-9 brought Vietnam’s relations with the two Southeast Asian countries to a new level, said Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Le Hoai Trung in an interview afterwards.

During the visit to Malaysia from August 7-8 at the invitation of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, PM Dung and his counterpart agreed to elevate the two countries’ relationship to a strategic partnership, marking a significant landmark since Vietnam and Malaysia established diplomatic relations 42 years ago.

Trung said the new partnership would create a framework to boost cooperation between the two nations in all fields, positively contributing to the successful formation of the ASEAN Community (AC) at the end of 2015.

In terms of political relationship, Vietnam and Malaysia agreed their ties are growing on the basis of trust and many shared strategic interests.

With regard to defence and security, Trung said Malaysia hopes to promote cooperation in these fields. The two countries reached agreement on specific issues such as expanding exchanges between the two armies; sharing experiences in joining United Nations peacekeeping missions and search and rescue; and cooperating in fighting transnational crimes, high-tech crimes and terrorism.

They also agreed not to let any individuals or organisations use either country’s territory to harm the other.

Economically, the Deputy Minister confirmed Vietnam and Malaysia made many important achievements. Malaysia is one of the major investors in Vietnam with 11 billion USD in capital and Vietnam’s biggest trade partner in ASEAN. The two countries are resolved to raise bilateral trade to 15 billion USD or more by 2020.

The two countries agreed to increase connections between the two economies to contribute to the success of the ASEAN Economic Community, a pillar of the AC.

Concerning sea and ocean cooperation, the two sides agreed to advance cooperation in aquatic farming and establish a hotline to address issues relating to illegal fishing.

Reviewing labour cooperation, Malaysia has a high opinion of Vietnamese workers and pledged to protect the legitimate rights and interests of Vietnam labourers. An agreement was signed to protect 60,000 Vietnamese workers in Malaysia.

Internationally, Malaysia and Vietnam agreed to maintain and increase cooperation and coordination, especially with other ASEAN members, to realise the formation of the AC as well as maintain ASEAN’s central leadership role in strategic regional issues.

Malaysia shared the deep concern over the East Sea situation and expressed its position of the necessity to maintain peace and stability in East Sea, ensure security, safety and freedom of navigation and aviation in the sea, resolve disputes in line with international law—including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea ( UNCLOS), fully implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and soon establish a Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (COC).

In order to effectively implement the agreements, the Deputy Minister said the two PMs agreed to assign relevant agencies to draft a plan of actions to implement the Strategic Partnership in 2015-2018.

Besides making the best use of existing mechanisms, the two countries will increase exchanges, mutual understanding and cooperation to address problems regarding the legitimate rights and interests of Vietnamese labourers and communities in Malaysia.

On August 9, at the invitation of Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, PM Dung attended the ceremony to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Singapore’s National Day.

Deputy Minister Trung stressed that the presence of high-ranking leaders of ASEAN countries, including Vietnam, at the ceremony demonstrates their strong support for Singapore’s development, strengthens the ASEAN’s solidarity and enhances the image of the ASEAN Community.

During the visit, PM Dung also met his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong and talked with local leading businesses and Vietnamese companies operating in Singapore.

Based on the strategic partnership established in 2013, the two sides agreed to continue deepening the trusting political relationship in order to further promote cooperation in other fields, especially economics, trade, finance, transport and tourism.

Singapore is one of Vietnam’s leading investment and trade partners. With 9.8 billion USD in trade, the city-state is Vietnam’s third largest trade partner in ASEAN and third largest investor in Vietnam with 33 billion USD in capital.-VNA