Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Joe Natuman started an official five-day visit to Vietnam on October 5 at the invitation of his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Tan Dung.

The trip is aimed at boosting cooperation between the two countries and discussing regional and global issues.

This is the first visit by Natuman and only the second by a leader of Vanuatu to Vietnam.

Vietnam and Vanuatu established diplomatic ties in 1982 and have since maintained sound political relations through the exchange of delegations, particularly the Vietnam visit by Prime Minister Serge Vohor in 1997.

The two nations are coordinating in the Francophone International Organisation and the United Nations’ international forums. Vanuatu recognised Vietnam’s market economy in June this year.

Due to geographical distance, two-way trade reached only 2 million USD in 2011, with Vietnam mainly exporting meat, beche-de-mer, and other seafood and ceramics to Vanuatu.

Around 500 Vietnamese people are residing in Vanuatu, some of them descents of prisoners exiled to the islands by the French, constituting the second largest foreign expat community in the country which has a population of 267,000.-VNA