The third deputy minister-level political consultation between Vietnam and the European Union (EU) was held in Hanoi on March 25 within the framework of an agreement between the two sides.

The event was co-chaired by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son and Chief Operating Officer of the European External Action Service (EEAS) David O’Sullivan.

The two sides discussed measures to strengthen bilateral cooperation in areas ranging from politics-diplomacy, security-defence and justice to economics, trade, investment and agriculture.

They also exchanged views on several regional and international issues of common concern such as ASEAN-EU cooperation, Vietnam-EU cooperation in the framework of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), the East Sea issue and climate change.

Both sides agreed on the need to continue increasing the exchange of all-level delegations, consultations and viewpoint coordination. They affirmed their political determination to conclude negotiations for the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) before the 10th ASEM Summit in Milan, Italy, this October and to closely collaborate with each other in ensuring the success of the summit.

At the event, O’Sullivan reaffirmed the EU’s commitment to increasing official development assistance (ODA) for Vietnam in the 2014-2020 period.

He also agreed that in the time to come, the EEAS will closely coordinate with the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in organising training courses aimed at enhancing the capacity of Vietnamese officials in implementing the Vietnam-EU Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA).

Regarding the East Sea issue, he reiterated the EU’s stance of backing maritime security and safety, and settling disputes by peaceful means and dialogue in respect for international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), so as to reach a Code of Conduct (COC) between China and ASEAN at an early date.

Deputy Minister Son suggested the EU speed up the ratification of the PCA and recognise the market economy status of Vietnam before the EVFTA is concluded.

He highly valued the EU’s pledge to continue ODA for Vietnam, stressing that the Vietnam-EU cooperation strategy in the 2014-2020 period should be based on the country’s demand and development standard and cooperation priorities in the PCA framework.

Vietnam supports the EU to play an active role in Asia-Pacific and its initiatives to address global issues on the basis of multilateralism and international law, Son said.

The official affirmed that Vietnam, as the ASEAN-EU Coordinator, will do everything it can to foster the comprehensive development of the cooperation between the two blocs.

Son and Sullivan expressed their delight at the outcomes of the consultation, which they said contributed to strengthening mutual understanding and bilateral ties between Vietnam and the EU. They agreed to maintain the mechanism on an annual basis.-VNA