Vietnam and Australia have released a joint statement as Vietnamese Party General Secretary Nong Duc Manh concluded an official visit from September 6-9 at the invitation of Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

During the visit, the Vietnamese Party leader held talks with PM Kevin Rudd and other Cabinet ministers.

Party General Secretary Manh also met with Governor General Quentin Bryce, Senate President John Hogg, Speaker of the House of Representatives Harry Jenkins, opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull, New South Wales Premier Nathan Rees and Governor Marie Bashir.

He also received representatives of the Australian National University and “Forever Study” Fund as well as met with representatives of the Vietnamese community and students in Australia .

The Vietnamese Party chief and the Australian PM had frank and open talks on all aspects of the bilateral relationship as well as regional and international issues of mutual concern. They reaffirmed importance of the bilateral relationship and the broad range of cooperation between Vietnam and Australia on global and regional issues. The two sides agreed to establish the Vietnam-Australia Comprehensive Partnership, which lays out a clear framework to strengthen the bilateral relationship through building multi-faceted cooperation, ongoing development assistance and technical cooperation to combat people smuggling and counter terrorism. The Party General Secretary and the Prime Minister agreed that officials from both countries would discuss and develop an Action Plan to take forward these interests.

PM Rudd congratulated General Secretary Manh on Vietnam ’s important achievements in economic reform and welcomed the country’s initiatives for further development. Party leader Manh applauded Australia ’s role as one of the long-term donors and partners in Vietnam ’s development. Both sides noted that Australia was one of the top ten donors to Vietnam , contributing development assistance estimated at 106 million AUD in the 2009-2010 period. Prime Minister Rudd reiterated Australia ’s commitment to assist during the design phase and looked forward to further positive consideration of the Cao Lanh Bridge in the Mekong Delta, subject to the outcomes of the Asian Development Bank feasibility study currently underway.

Both sides noted the substantial contribution of education links to the bilateral relationship, including by building close ties between people of both countries. The two leaders also recognised the support extended by the Australian government to Vietnam in training and exchange of experience on administrative reforms and anti-corruption. The Australian PM noted that Australia was a leading destination for Vietnamese students, with more than 20,000 Vietnamese enrolments in Australian courses. Australian education providers had also enjoyed great success in Vietnam , with more than 14,000 students studying in Vietnam for Australian qualifications.

The General Secretary and the Prime Minister acknowledged the dynamic bilateral trade and investment relationship between Vietnam and Australia , noting that it was Australia ’s fastest-growing trade relationship in ASEAN. The two leaders agreed that the Vietnamese economy offered favourable opportunities for Australian businesses and committed to continued cooperation in developing these opportunities.

The two leaders discussed the impact of the global economic and financial crisis and the international response to the crisis. There has been unprecedented international cooperation to stabilise the global economy and restore confidence, with a range of global and regional institutions playing an important role such as the UN, G20, APEC and ASEAN. The Prime Minister welcomed Vietnam ’s important efforts and successes in mitigating the impact of the crisis and achieving a growth target of around 5 percent in 2009. The General Secretary congratulated Australia on its impressive economic performance among OECD countries.

The two leaders agreed on the importance of continued trade growth and the need for an ambitious and balanced outcome to the WTO Doha Development Round of world trade negotiations as soon as possible. The Australian PM welcomed Vietnam ’s early ratification of the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement, a key platform for further growth in bilateral trade and investment. He also applauded Vietnam ’s participation in negotiations to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and looked forward to working constructively and cooperatively with Vietnam during the negotiations.

The two sides agreed to negotiate an agreement on science and research cooperation in order to enhance collaborative research between Australian and Vietnamese scientists, building on existing cooperation in health and agricultural research.

In recalling the agreement between PM Rudd and PM Nguyen Tan Dung to deepen their strategic engagement, both sides welcomed the regional security dialogue held at senior officials’ level in Hanoi on August 20-21, 2009. The two leaders also highly valued the effectiveness of other cooperation dialogues between the two countries, including the Australia-Vietnam Human Rights Dialogue.

The General Secretary and the Prime Minister welcomed growing practical cooperation between Australian and Vietnamese government agencies, particularly in border security and combating transnational crime. The two leaders welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on the Exchange of Immigration Information earlier this year and looked forward to the signing of an agreement to establish the Transnational Crime Centre in Ho Chi Minh City later in 2009.

Party leader Manh and PM Rudd expressed satisfaction with the excellent cooperation between Vietnam and Australia in the Asia-Pacific region and on global issues. The PM welcomed Vietnam ’s upcoming chairing of ASEAN and the East Asia Summit (EAS) in 2010 and wished to work closely with the country during its period as Chair. The two sides highly valued and agreed to continue promoting cooperation between the two countries in regional and international forums such as the ASEAN Regional Forum, EAS, APEC, WTO and the UN. The General Secretary affirmed that Vietnam would continue to support and promote cooperation between Australia and ASEAN. Vietnam took note of and supported continued discussion of Australia ’s initiative for an Asia-Pacific community and will positively consider Australia ’s candidature for a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council for the 2013-1014 term.

General Secretary Manh expressed his deep gratitude to the Government and people of Australia for the warm hospitality extended to him and the high-level Vietnamese delegation. He extended his invitation to PM Kevin Rudd to make an official visit to Vietnam at a mutually convenient time. The Australian PM accepted the invitation with pleasure./.