The Vietnamese and French Ministries of Foreign Affairs have agreed to work closely to elevate the two countries’ relations to strategic partnership during the Vietnam-France year.

The agreement was laid down in a joint communiqué, which was issued following the talks between Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh and his French counterpart Laurent Fabius during the former’s March 26-28 visit to France .

During their talks, the two ministers discussed and agreed on the itinerary to set up the strategic partnership, which was noted to focus on cooperation in politics, defence-security, economics, trade and investment, development cooperation, culture, tertiary education, science and technology.

They reached unanimity on bringing into play the efficiency of existing cooperation mechanisms, including diplomacy and defence strategic dialogue, defence cooperation joint committee, and an economics-finance forum.

The ministers were unanimous in jointly organising activities within the framework of the Vietnam Year in France and the France Year in Vietnam in 2013 and 2014 to mark the 40 th anniversary of the two countries’ diplomatic ties.

The two ministers noted with joy positive developments in bilateral trade and investment cooperation in the context of global economic difficulties, especially France having maintained its EU leading role as a trade, investment and development assistance partner of Vietnam .

They said the two sides boast potentials for cooperation in the prioritised fields of infrastructure, transport, energy and aviation.

Both host and guest highlighted and agreed on further coordination between the two ministries at international and multilateral forums, particularly at the United Nations and within the framework of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), the ASEAN-EU and the International Francophone Organisation.

The French Minister voiced further support for Vietnam to boost its relations with the European Union (EU), negotiate the free trade agreement (FTA) with the EU, as well as during the ratification process of the Vietnam-EU Partnership and Cooperation Agreement.

Fabius added that his country will urge the EU to soon recognise Vietnam’s full market economy status.

The French Minister showed interests in and backing for Vietnam’s stance on the East Sea issue to ensure peace, stability, navigation freedom and safety and its settlement of disputes through peaceful means in compliance with international laws, especially the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea towards the Code of Conduct in the East Sea.

During the three-day visit, FM Minh paid a courtesy visit to Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and had meetings with Speaker of the French Senate Jean-Pierre Bel and President of the French National Assembly Claude Bartolone.

At these functions, the French leaders affirmed that their country’s cooperation with Vietnam is important, and wished to soon elevate the two countries’ relations to strategic partnership.

FM Minh underscored Vietnam’s consistent policy of promoting its cooperation with France, a leading European Union partner in politics, economics, trade, investment and development cooperation.

He also attended the ceremony to mark the 40th anniversary of establishment of the Vietnam-France diplomatic ties on March 27.-VNA