Vietnam and Australia need to boost bilateral trade and investment as well as political ties, State President Nguyen Minh Triet said at a meeting with Australian Governor-General Quentin Bryce in Hanoi on May 9.

Triet said Vietnam was expecting an increase in Australian investments through its open door policy and was seeking more opportunities for investment in oil and gas industry and mining, especially in coal, from the Asian-Pacific partner.

“The two governments should encourage imports of farm produce and seafood from each other and further tap the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement to boost trade and investment,” added the State leader.

Triet also urged stronger cooperation in national defence, security, extradition of criminals and natural disaster control, as well as education and science-technology.

In reply, Bryce, the first Australian woman to hold this important position, emphasised a huge leap forward in relations with Vietnam, especially in education, as Australia’s pride. She expressed her great impression of Vietnamese students’ hardworking attitudes and high academic records.

Australia is Vietnam’s major educational partner, granting some 150 government scholarships annually and Vietnamese students make up the largest international student community in Australia.

She also recognised the huge contribution made by the Vietnamese community to Australian development.

Vietnam has become an attractive destination for Australians as some 300,000 of them visited for holidays in this country, said the Australian leader.

The ASEAN-plus dialogue partner is also a major ODA donor, helping the ASEAN member build two major bridges over the Mekong River, the national transport artery.

The 91 million AUD My Thuan bridge was the largest overseas assistance project undertaken by the Australian Government and also the largest regional cable-stayed bridge when completed in 2000. Australia’s commitment to 160 million AUD for the construction of Dong Thap bridge is the largest single Australian aid in Southeast Asia so far.

The Australian Governor-General and her husband began a State visit to Vietnam on May 9 at the invitation of State President Nguyen Minh Triet and his wife./.