Vietnamese and New Zealand Defence Ministers have agreed to work so as to elevate bilateral defence cooperation to a new level with the early signing of a defence cooperation agreement.

The agreement was reached at talks between visiting Vietnamese Defence Minister General Phung Quang Thanh and his New Zealand counterpart Jonathan Coleman following an official welcome ceremony on March 21 in Wellington city.

Both sides should exchange delegations at all levels, cooperation in English training, set up a deputy minister-level dialogue mechanism, and exchange experiences in military services with a focus on navy cooperation, said Thanh.

He affirmed that Vietnam attaches importance to its comprehensive partnership with New Zealand , including in defence.

Vietnam wishes to bolster cooperation with New Zealand at multilateral forums such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM+) to maintain the region’s peaceful environment, he added.

As a nation in the Asia-Pacific region, New Zealand finds consultation cooperation with regional countries necessary, replied Coleman.

Bilateral defence cooperation between New Zealand and Vietnam will help maintain peace in the region and ensure the legitimate rights on the sea of each nation, the host said.

He went on to say that his ministry will help further cooperate with its Vietnamese counterpart in training, especially to raise Vietnamese military officials’ English language skills, and exchanging naval experiences.

New Zealand backed Vietnam ’s initiative to set up an expert group to overcome the consequences of bombs and mines left from the war within the mechanism of ADMM+, as well as the nation’s stance in settling disputes by peaceful means in accordance with international law, he noted.

The same day, Thanh met New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray Mc Cully.

During the official friendship visit to the country (March 20-25), Thanh held working sessions with a number of New Zealand defence officials and visited New Zealand High Command and Defence University.-VNA