Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh (R) and UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Vietnam’s and the UK’s top diplomatic officials considered measures to solidify their countries’ strategic partnership during talks in Hanoi on April 12.

Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh and UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond expressed their delight at the growth of the strategic partnership.

They agreed on ways to boost that relationship in politics-diplomacy, security-defence, economy-trade-investment, education-training, science and technology, and environment and climate change prevention.

While concurring with increased visits at all levels, they affirmed that economic, trade and investment cooperation is a priority and agreed to create optimal conditions for their businesses to access and boost operations in each other’s markets. That facilitation will also help the firms capitalise on opportunities generated by the EU – Vietnam Free Trade Agreement, once the deal is ratified.

The two sides also want to augment the number of Vietnamese students in the UK, accelerate the implementation of the Vietnam – UK University project, and expand affiliation in vocational training to develop a skillful workforce for Vietnam.

Minh asked the UK Government to facilitate the granting of visas for Vietnamese citizens.

He also appreciated the UK Foreign Secretary’s pledge to consider the design and realisation of some projects funded by the UK Government’s new wealth fund to address climate change consequences, including saltwater intrusion in the Mekong Delta.

For his part, Philip Hammond said his country prioritises reinforcing cooperation in education with Vietnam, including the establishment of a Vietnam – UK institute in Da Nang city, as well as in climate change response and anti-wildlife trafficking.

At the talks, the two sides were unanimous in continued collaboration and mutual support at multilateral forums, particularly the United Nations, the Asia – Europe Meeting (ASEM), and between ASEAN and the EU.

They also touched upon opportunities and challenges facing Asia – Pacific such as the East Sea issue. They said all disputes must be resolved peacefully, without actions complicating the situation or use or threat to use force, in compliance with the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982 UNCLOS) and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea, and with efforts to expeditiously finalise a code of conduct in the waters.

In a press conference following the talks, Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Minh said Vietnam considers the UK important in its foreign policy. It highly values the European nation’s role and influence in international peace and security affairs and other global matters.

Foreign Secretary Hammond also said the UK is well aware of the importance of its relationship enhancement with Vietnam, especially amidst its development of strategic partnerships in the Asia – Pacific region.

Regarding the East Sea issue, he said the UK has major national interests in maintaining and ensuring stability and security in the region. Its consistent stance is that territorial disputes in the East Sea need to be settled in line with international principles and law, particularly the 1982 UNCLOS.

The concerned parties should not use or threat to use force, or take unilateral actions such as deploying military forces and weapons in disputed waters, he noted.-VNA