Foreign Office Minister hosts first ever UK-Vietnam strategic dialogue

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Foreign Office Minister Jeremy Browne and his Vietnamese counterpart Vice Minister Mr Bui Thanh Son met in London on 26 October 2011 to launch the UK-Vietnam Strategic Dialogue.

The Ministers shared their views on global and regional security developments, including EU ASEAN relations, the South China Sea and the Arab Spring, as well as defence and organised international crime.

Speaking at the Dialogue, the Foreign Office Minister said:

“When I visited Vietnam earlier this year, I was struck by its energy, drive and rapid development. This is a fast-growing economy and one that is expected to grow by more than seven per cent a year by 2015. I want this same energy to be brought to the UK-Vietnam relationship, so that it can develop and thrive in the years to come.

“Vietnam is an important partner for the UK on commercial issues and, increasingly, on global and regional issues. This is what the meeting today is focusing on and I hope that through our discussions we will find more ways of working together and more opportunities for both of our countries.”

This is the first time a Strategic Dialogue has been held between the two countries, and marks a new commitment to strengthen bilateral relationships following the Strategic Partnership Agreement signed in September 2010. Other aspects of strengthened bilateral relations under the Strategic Partnership include an MoU signed on 25 October between the UK’s Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI) and the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam (DAV).

The Strategic Dialogue comes at a time when the UK and Vietnam are already working closely on a range of long-term issues including climate change, development and education.

The prospect of investing in Vietnam is also becoming more widespread amongst UK businesses, with a recent survey by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) showing that Vietnam is the second most popular investment destination, after China, in terms of emerging markets.

Full text of the communique:

FCO Minister of State Jeremy Browne and MOFA Vice Minister Bui Thanh Son, accompanied by senior officials from the UK Ministry of Defence and the Home Office and the Vietnamese Ministries of National Defence and Public Security, conducted the inaugural Vietnam-UK Strategic Dialogue meeting in London on 26 October 2011. This realised the commitment made by the two governments in the Strategic Partnership Agreement signed in September 2010. The Strategic Dialogue encompassed discussions on bilateral issues, including defence, organised crime and counter terrorism, as well as regional security. The Strategic Dialogue came the week before the fifth meeting in Hanoi of the UK-Vietnam Joint Economic and Trade Committee chaired by the UK Minister of Business, Innovation and Skills and the Vietnam Minister of Industry and Trade, which both parties hoped would help to further develop and deepen economic and commercial ties.

The two sides noted with satisfaction that bilateral relations continue to be strengthened and broadened effectively in 7 areas mentioned in the Strategic Partnership Agreement. In this regard Vietnam reaffirmed its intention to proceed with a proactive and deeper international integration policy. Elevating bilateral relations with the UK through the Strategic Partnership was an important element of this policy. The UK welcomed Vietnam’s intention and also reaffirmed its own commitment to broadening and deepening its relations with Vietnam and the Asia Pacific as a whole. The UK underlined its commitment to further support work in Vietnam on good governance, accountability, transparency and human rights. In order to further enhance the bilateral Strategic Partnership, the UK warmly welcomes the official visit to the UK by the Chairman of the Vietnam National Assembly in early December 2011. Vietnam reiterated PM Nguyen Tan Dung’s invitation to PM David Cameron to make an official visit to Vietnam.

On regional security, Minister of State Jeremy Browne noted the important and growing role that ASEAN and other ASEAN-led regional mechanisms had to play and welcomed the catalytic role that Vietnam had played during its Chairmanship of ASEAN in 2010. The UK looked forward to signing the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation. Vietnam welcomed the UK’s signal of its intent and agreed to actively support an EU role in the region. The two sides also discussed the situation in the South China Sea/East Sea. Both sides acknowledged that the maintenance of peace, stability, safety, and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea/East Sea is in the common interests of the international community. The UK was concerned by tensions in this vital global trade artery and expressed its hope that all parties can resolve all territorial disputes in the South China Sea/East Sea peacefully, in line with international law. The two sides reaffirmed the importance of the 2002 ASEAN - China Declaration on the Conduct of the Parties in the South China Sea/East Sea and encouraged the parties to reach an agreement on a code of conduct. The two sides also exchanged understandings on broader geopolitical dynamics of economic power and security.

On defence, the two sides shared views and concerns over existing conflicts and emerging threats and discussed international and multilateral responses and how the two nations could cooperate more closely to minimise threats. The UK welcomed Vietnam’s potential future contribution to UN Peacekeeping Operations. On the bilateral front, the Ministers looked forward to closer defence cooperation, including more frequent exchange of delegations and the signing of an MoU on defence cooperation. Counter-proliferation, nuclear security and other non-traditional security challenges were discussed, with both sides strongly reaffirming the importance of countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction which would destabilise global peace and security. Both sides underlined the importance of making tangible progress on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation to fulfil the commitments set out in the 2010 NPT Action Plan, towards our shared long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons. The two sides also reiterated the importance of preventing nuclear material and know-how falling into the hands of terrorists. The UK and Vietnam agreed to cooperate on a range of international initiatives such as the Nuclear Security Summit and the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. Vietnam informed of the steps taken to sign and ratify the amended Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material. The UK also committed to working with Vietnam to develop civil nuclear capacity in pursuit of the legitimate development of clean energy to support its impressive economic growth.

On international organised crime and counter terrorism, the two sides reaffirmed their commitment to working together to counter these global threats. The UK welcomes the participation of Vietnam in the London Cyber conference due to take place in early November. Other forms of organised crime including human trafficking and money laundering were also discussed, with both Ministers welcoming the existing cooperation between their two countries and looking forward to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on immigration information exchange. The UK and Vietnam also discussed the UN Convention against Trans-national Organised Crime and the Palermo Protocols on human trafficking and people smuggling. In closing, the two Ministers agreed that Security and Defence would remain a key pillar of the Strategic Partnership and looked forward to ever closer dialogue in the coming months in the spirit of the agreement.