As close neighbours, Vietnam and Cambodia have established a long-standing friendship. The traditional friendship and cooperation have been developing in an in-depth and comprehensive manner, especially after both sides established their diplomatic ties in 1967.

In an article to mark the 45th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Vietnam and Cambodia (June 24), Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh described the past 45 years as a special period in the history of Vietnam-Cambodia relations, saying the two countries’ people stood shoulder to shoulder to cooperate and assist each other in their respective causes of national liberation, freedom, independence, and the pursuit of happiness and prosperity.

He recalled the Cambodian Revolution’s resounding victory on January 7, 1979, supported by volunteer Vietnamese soldiers and experts, who helped Cambodians escape the genocidal Pol Pot regime and begin to rebuild the country.

The victory helped the Cambodian people open an era of independence, peace, freedom and development for the country as well as facilitate the bilateral friendship and cooperation to develop into a new stage of closeness and mutual trust, he said.

Relations between Vietnam and Cambodia entered into a new period after the 1991 Paris Peace Accord and the 1993 General Elections in Cambodia .

The two countries have maintained regular exchanges of high-level and local visits, showing their resolve to work closely together to cement their bilateral relationship, which they have considered an important element behind the success of each country’s national construction and defence.

Reciprocal high-level visits, especially the Vietnam visit by King Norodom Sihamoni in June 2010, and the Cambodia visits by President Nguyen Minh Triet in August 2010 and Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong in December 2011 were very significant, bringing bilateral relations to a new level, tightening the fine neighbourliness, solidarity, friendship and comprehensive cooperation between the two nations.

On this occasion, the two countries’ senior leaders agreed to name 2012 as the Vietnam-Cambodia Friendship Year.

King-father Norodom Sihanouk said “ Cambodia and Vietnam are inseparable and this valuable relationship should be enhanced along with the national development and construction of both countries”, the Minister recalled.

He noted that the two countries have seen a rapid growth in economic, trade and investment cooperation. Two-way trade increased sharply from just 130-150 million USD a year in the 1997-1999 period to 1.2 billion USD in 2007, 1.6 billion USD in 2008 and 2.8 billion USD in 2011. Both countries are targeting to raise their trade value to 5 billion USD in the next five years.

Currently, Vietnam has more than 100 investment projects operating in Cambodia with a total capital of more than 2.2 billion USD. These projects focus on telecommunications, banking, energy, rubber planting, and agricultural product processing.

Relevant agencies of the two countries are speeding up border demarcation and landmark planting to complete the work on schedule.

Besides, the two countries have provided mutual support and assistance at regional and international forums such as the Cambodia-Laos and Vietnam (CLV) and Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar-Vietnam (CLMV) cooperation mechanisms, the Ayeyarwaddy-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS), the Greater Mekong Sub-region, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) and the United Nations.

Cambodia now takes the ASEAN Chairmanship in 2012 and Vietnam continues help Cambodia fulfil this task, said Minh.

Cooperation between the Vietnam Foreign Ministry and the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation have been also developing. They have conducted their third exchange programme and agreed to maintain the tradition, the FM added.

With their tradition of solidarity, friendship and cooperation and impartially mutual assistance, bilateral ties will have more potential to develop in a strong and comprehensive manner on a new height, Minister Minh affirmed.

“Based on the fundamental advantages of the two peoples’ close ties and various cooperation mechanisms as well as the senior leaders’ resolve and efforts by ministries, agencies, localities and people, we strongly believe that the fine neighbourliness, traditional friendship and comprehensive cooperation between Vietnam and Cambodia will continue develop to a new plane, benefiting both peoples and contributing to peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region and the world,” he said.-VNA