State President Nguyen Minh Triet has called on the Swiss Parliament to support the Swiss Government’s continued provision of ODA for Vietnam and the implementation of the agreements reached during his current visit.

President Triet made the request at a meeting with the President of the Swiss Council of States, Erika Forster Vannini, on May 18, on the third day of his four-day trip to the European country.

He informed Vannini of the outcome of earlier talks he had with his Swiss counterpart Doris Leuthard and Vietnam ’s socio-economic achievements and foreign policy.

He noted with pleasure the friendship and multifaceted cooperation between Vietnam and Switzerland continues to develop comprehensively, especially in the fields of economics, trade, investment, development cooperation, education and training.

The President thanked the Swiss parliament and government for their official development assistance (ODA) which has helped Vietnam to successfully carry out several programmes to eliminate hunger, reduce poverty and encourage socio-economic development and international economic integration.

Regarding cooperative relations between the two legislatures, President Triet said that he hoped these relationships would be enhanced by increasing the exchange of senior level visits, sharing experiences in legislative affairs and improving supervisory capacity. Parliamentary cooperation is one of the most effective ways of promoting Vietnamese-Swiss cooperative ties, he stressed.

President Triet conveyed an invitation from the National Assembly’s Chairman Nguyen Phu Trong for Ms Vannini to pay a visit to Vietnam .

For her part, Ms Vannini welcomed President Triet on his first-ever official visit to Switzerland , saying that it was a milestone in bilateral relations.

The Swiss parliament has been interested in Vietnam’s experiences during its renewal process and found that the two countries still hold a lot of potential for furthering economic cooperation, she said, pledging support for high-level agreements signed during President Triet’s visit.

Earlier in the day, President Triet and President Leuthard held talks and issued a joint statement, in which both leaders expressed their satisfaction with the quality of their bilateral talks on human rights which started in 1997.

The eighth round of talks took place on April 22, 2010, in Switzerland in a positive atmosphere. It confirmed the will of both sides to continue co-operating in human rights in a comprehensive and honest manner.

President Leuthard expressed her appreciation for Vietnam ’s supporting Switzerland ’s candidacy for a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council for the period 2010 to 2013.

On the afternoon of May 18, the two heads of state attended a round table discussion with executives from a number of leading groups and corporations from both Vietnam and Switzerland .

Speaking at the talks, President Leuthard said that Switzerland was one of the first European nations to establish diplomatic and economic relations with Vietnam . Two-way trade has developed well in recent years, reaching 2.6 billion USD in 2009, she noted.

The Swiss leader expressed her wishes that a free trade agreement between the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and Vietnam will soon be realised to make it easier for economic, trade and investment ties between EFTA members, including Switzerland, and Vietnam.

She added that there has been an annual increase of 18 percent in the flow of Swiss foreign direct investment (FDI) to Vietnam. She also stated that Swiss companies want to invest long-term in Vietnam and fully tap into its potential and advantages to secure a firm foothold in Southeast Asia .

President Leuthard said she believed that Swiss businesses would get more pertinent information about Vietnam after their discussions and that they could now participate more in the Vietnamese market, especially in the fields they boast strengths in such as finance, banking, machinery, general equipment and logistical services.

President Triet spoke of the potential and advantages of Vietnam ’s investment environment, stressing that Vietnam always rolls out the red carpet for investors from Switzerland , particularly those operating in infrastructure, finance and banking.

“Based on our time-honoured relationship, Vietnam wants Swiss investors to come to the country for mutual development,” said the President.

At the discussion, the two leaders witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding on the cooperation between the Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Swiss-Asian Chamber of Commerce, and the Swiss Employers’ Association.

Later the same day, President Triet received members of the “Friends of Vietnam” parliamentary group and leaders of the Switzerland-Vietnam Friendship Association./.