President Truong Tan Sang’s first State visit to Kazakhstan from September 9-11 helped deepen Vietnam ’s relations with traditional friends.

The statement was made by Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh in his September 11 interview granted to the press on the results of the President’s visit to Kazakhstan .

According to the minister, the visit took place at a time when the traditional friendship and multi-faceted cooperation between Vietnam and Kazakhstan are developing fruitfully and the two countries are celebrating the 20 th anniversary of diplomatic ties.

Economic-trade relations between the two countries have seen positive developments, with two-way trade reaching 49 million USD in 2011 and 41 million USD in the first seven months of this year.

The Vietnam-Kazakhstan Inter-Governmental Committee on Economic-Trade and Scientific-Technological Cooperation has so far convened five sessions. At the fifth session in September 2011, the two sides signed the Vietnam-Kazakhstan Joint Action Plan in the 2011-2013 period.

President Sang’s visit brought about a new impulse to bilateral ties and represented both sides’ aspiration and determination to consolidate and strengthen bilateral cooperation, Minh stressed.

During the visit, President Sang held talks with his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev and met with Chairman of the Kazakh Senate Kairat Mami, Chairman of Mazhilis of the Kazakh Parliament (lower chamber) Nurlan Nigmatulin and Kazakh Prime Minister Karam Massimov.

He also attended the Vietnam-Kazakhstan Business Forum and the Vietnamese Cultural Days in Kazakhstan as well as called at several economic and educational establishments in the capital city of Astana .

At the meetings, the two sides affirmed to continue maintaining regular political dialogue at all levels, especially high-ranking level, to increase political trust and foster multi-faceted cooperation in the future, said Minh.

The leaders also affirmed to actively start the negotiation and signing of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Vietnam and the Kazakhstan-Russia-Belarus Customs Union, considering it a breakthrough to strengthen economic-trade-investment relations for mutual benefits, he added.

The two sides agreed that oil and gas cooperation is a highly important area in bilateral ties, stressing the need to continue meetings and exchanges between the Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam) and Kazakhstan ’s oil and gas group, KazMunayGaz, in order to carry out joint projects.

During the visit, the two sides signed a number of important cooperation documents in such fields as flora quarantine, banking, aviation, and local linkages, helping gradually complete legal frameworks for bilateral cooperation between the two nations.

They agreed to open a direct air route from Kazakhstan ’s Anmatu city to Ho Chi MInh City later this year in order to facilitate the tourism development and promotion as well as to expand exchanges in politics, economy-trade and culture-humanity between the two countries.

The two countries’ leaders attended the opening ceremony of the “Vietnamese Cultural Days in Kazakhstan ” during which they agreed to regularly maintain cultural exchanges between the two nations. Firstly, Kazakhstan will organise the “Kazakh Cultural Days” in Vietnam in 2013./.