South Africa marks 25 years of diplomatic ties with four ASEAN nations hinh anh 1Vietnamese Ambassador Vu Van Dung (first, right), the ambassadors of Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand, and Anil Sooklal – Deputy Director General for Asia and the Middle East at South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation (centre) pose for a photo at the ceremony (Photo: VNA)

Pretoria (VNA) – A ceremony was held in Pretoria on November 19 to mark the 25th founding anniversary of South Africa’s diplomatic ties with Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.

The event was attended by Anil Sooklal – Deputy Director General for Asia and the Middle East at South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), the ambassadors of the four Southeast Asian nations and diplomats of other countries.

Opening the ceremony, Sindiswa Mququ, director for South Asia – Central Asia and Southeast Asia at the DIRCO’s Asia and the Middle East division, reviewed milestones in her country’s diplomatic ties with the four nations. She said the relations, established in 1993, have developed constantly over the last 25 years, with all the four Southeast Asian countries being key economic and trading partners of South Africa.

Meanwhile, Anil Sooklal said political ties between South Africa and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are close, but bilateral economic links still have room to grow. South Africa needs to make use of the embassies of the seven most dynamic ASEAN nations in the country to promote not only bilateral relations but also inter-regional cooperation, particularly between the Southern African Development Community and ASEAN.

In his speech, Vietnamese Ambassador Vu Van Dung appreciated the celebration, noting it marked a new development stage in the five countries’ connections.

He said Vietnam and South Africa boast decades of friendship, beginning with the meeting between representatives of their national liberation movements at the Bandung Conference in Indonesia in 1955 and bilateral ties have expanded in all spheres over the last 25 years.

Dung elaborated they have stepped up state-to-state, party-to-party and people-to-people diplomacy and perfected the legal framework for cooperation. South Africa is currently the top African trade partner of Vietnam. Two-way trade increased five-fold from 189 million USD in 2007 to 1 billion USD in 2017, and is expected to hit 2 billion USD in the next five years.

Based on mutual trust and the defence policy dialogue, the two sides have created many chances to strengthen cooperation, including sharing experience in peacekeeping operations and defence industry, and coordinating in crime fighting and criminal extradition.

Much progress has also been attained in their cooperation in environment, science, technology, tourism and education, he noted, adding that Vietnam and South Africa welcome some 4,000 tourists from each other each year and the number is still rising.

The ambassador voiced his belief that with both sides’ determination and efforts, their cooperation will keep flourishing in all fields for the sake of peace and development in their respective regions and the world.-VNA