At the third joint Cabinet meeting in Thailand in July 2015 (Source: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Despite ups and down, the relationship between Vietnam and Thailand has progressed over the past 40 years with strongly developing people-to-people exchanges.

Deputy Foreign Minister Vu Hong Nam made the remark in his interview granted to the press on the occasion of the 40 th anniversary of the Vietnam – Thailand diplomatic ties (August 6, 1976-2016).

The Deputy Minister highlighted the milestones in the bilateral relations, including the official visit to Thailand by late Prime Minister Pham Van Dong in September 1978, which laid the foundation for the two nations’ relationship.

Since 1991, the bilateral ties have continuously been reinforced and promoted, particularly after Vietnam officially joined the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1995, Nam said.

The first joint Cabinet meeting between the two nations was organised in 2004, which raised their relations to a new level of development, he said, adding that the Vietnam – Thailand Friendship Village was launched in Thailand during the occasion.

Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong’s official visit to Thailand in 2013 marked a turning point in the two nations’ relationship with the establishment of the strategic partnership, the first Thailand made with an ASEAN member.

The two Governments convened their third joint meeting in 2015, setting to achieve a bilateral trade value of 20 billion USD by 2020.

Nam underscored the significance of the Vietnam-Thailand economic cooperation to the ASEAN development, saying that the two nations account for one third of the bloc’s population and its GDP.

Over the past four decades, Vietnam and Thailand have continually cooperated in addressing the common issues of the garden, the Deputy Minister said, adding that he believes that the two countries’ collaboration will greatly contribute to consolidating solidarity within ASEAN.

He also hailed Thailand as one of the pioneers in seeking solutions to ensuring peace and stability in the East Sea as well as the regional development.

The official also attached the significance to the overseas Vietnamese community in Thailand, with over 100,000 people, mostly in the northeast region.

In 1998, the two sides reached an agreement, in which the host country grants Thai citizenships to Thais of Vietnamese origin, thus facilitating their living and working in the country, Nam said.

Two-way trade between Vietnam and Thailand now hits 11 billion USD. The figure is expected to reach 20 billion USD per year by 2020, according to Nam.

Vietnam is the second largest trade partner of Thailand in ASEAN while Thailand is the biggest trade partner of Vietnam, and named in the top ten investors in Vietnam, with nearly 500 projects worth nearly 10 billion USD.-VNA