Hanoi (VNA) – Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Lavrov gave positive comments on the strategic partnership between Russia and Vietnam during an interview recently granted to Vietnam News Agency.

The interview took place before his Vietnam visit on March 19-20 at the invitation of Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh.

Lavrov said the leaders of the two countries at various levels have always maintained their contacts.

During the visit, he said he will discuss with Vietnamese officials preparations for the “Year of Russia in Vietnam” and the “Year of Vietnam in Russia” scheduled for 2019 on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of a treaty on basic principles for bilateral friendship.

Education, cultural exchange and humanitarian cooperation are traditional cooperation fields, he said.

As regards bilateral cooperation potential, Lavrov said two-way trade surpassed 35 percent to over 5.3 billion USD in 2017 – a record since 1991, partly thanks to the signing of a free trade agreement between Vietnam and the Eurasian Economic Union in 2015 which took effect in 2016.

In order to further lift bilateral economic-trade ties, he suggested encouraging regular contacts between industrialists and businesses to explore win-win opportunities or holding round-table seminars, exhibitions and fairs.

Apart from the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, he introduced the Eastern Economic Forum held annually in Vladivostok since 2015 where Vietnamese firms could join to seek opportunities.

He said Vietnam and Russia established a high-level working group which is tasked with monitoring specific investment projects and expanding economic ties among firms working in mining, petroleum processing, energy, materials, transport, infrastructure, and information – communications.

Asked about what Russia will do to further promote its position and role in the Asia-Pacific region, Lavrov said Russia together with Vietnam, ASEAN member states and their partners will step up an agenda to ensure sustainable and stable security architecture and development cooperation.

Russia highly values ASEAN’s central role in facilitating the annual ASEAN forum on ensuring regional security, the ASEAN defence ministers’ meeting with counterparts of their partner countries, a series of meetings between ASEAN and dialogue partners, including Russia, and particularly the East Asia Summit (EAS) with key partners such as Russia, China, the US, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea and Australia.

Within the EAS framework, Russia has so far underscored the need to launch an open security and cooperation system in Asia-Pacific based on the principles of equality and undivided security among the member countries, ensuring that not any country attempts to ensure its security at the expense of other nations, he said.-VNA