Hanoi (VNA) – Vietnam is an important partner of Australia in the region, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Senator Marise Payne said at a meeting with Minister of National Defence Gen. Ngo Xuan Lich in Hanoi on June 12.

Lich said Vietnam-Australia cooperative relations in general and defence ties in particular have witnessed positive development steps, especially after the two nations elevated the bilateral relationship to the level of strategic partnership.

The minister stressed that in 2018, Vietnam and Australia organised a range of practical activities to mark the 45th founding anniversary of diplomatic relations and the 20th anniversary of defence ties, including the signing of the Declaration on Joint Visions for Enhancing Defence Cooperation by the two defence ministers during his official visit to Australia.

Lich spoke highly of the outcomes of the Vietnam visit by Australian navy ships last month, saying the trip helped to promote exchanges between the Vietnamese and Australian people and armies and contribute to peace, stability and common development in the region.

Payne pledged to continue assisting Vietnam in United Nations peacekeeping operations. Besides training courses, Australia will send aircraft to fly Vietnamese military officers of the second level-2 field hospital to the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan to replace the staff of the first level-2 field hospital later this year, she said.

Regarding cooperation within multilateral frameworks, the two ministers agreed to maintain consultations and close coordination through regional mechanisms led by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the ASEAN-Australia Forum.

Lich said Vietnam wants to consult with Australia to reach common consensus when the country assumes the ASEAN Chairmanship and hosts activities within the framework of the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM+) in 2020.-VNA