November 24, 2007
VIETNAM-JAPAN : Ties
President hopeful on Japan agreement
President Nguyen Minh Triet looked forward to an early conclusion of the ongoing Viet Nam-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations yesterday, which he said stood to transform strategic ties.
Speaking at an exclusive interview for Japanese correspondents, the president expressed optimism that the EPA would greatly benefit trade and investment in both countries.
Bilateral EPA negotiations began in early 2007 and are in the critical stages.
Commenting on Japan’s Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) grants for Viet Nam, Triet said,"Japan’s ODA has played an important role in Viet Nam’s socio-economic development, serving as a vital source of finance for building infrastructure."
The president acknowledged that Japan was an essential partner, providing the largest amount of foreign development aid, a total of 30 per cent, over the past 15 years.
While applauding Japan’s offers of assistance in building Viet Nam’s North-South rail, the Hoa Lac high-tech zone and national roadways, President Triet encouraged more Japanese investor presence within the country.
"I would like to call on Japanese investors to help manage the massive traffic problems in HCM City and Ha Noi," he said. He also drew attention to the negative effects such problems might have on the economy in the long-term.
In response to concerns over the collapse of Japan-built Can Tho Bridge, which killed over 50 people in September, President Triet stated that it was an unfortunate accident and would not impede relations.
He said that relevant Japanese and Vietnamese agencies had been working on the case to ensure that sort of tragedy would never happen again.
President Tsutomu Takebe of the Japan-Viet Nam Parliamentary Friendship Alliance, has stressed Viet Nam’s emerging position in Japan’s external policy, pointing to the upcoming landmark visit by State President Nguyen Minh Triet, the first ever made by a Vietnamese head of State.
In an exclusive interview with Vietnam News Agency (VNA) on the threshold of President Triet’s five-day visit scheduled to begin on November 25, the law-maker said Triet’s visit would be the first ever made by a top Vietnamese leader and also the first "national guest", signalling Japan’s special concern for boosting relations with Viet Nam.
He said he hoped that the upcoming visit by the Vietnamese president would bring in an agreement on celebrations of the 35th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
"The Japan-Viet Nam Parliamentary Friendship Alliance is supporting an initiative raised by Goodwill Ambassador Sugi Ryotaro for a grand music gala in Viet Nam. Senator Matsuda Iwao has also worked out a plan to hold a big Vietnamese festival in Tokyo," Takebe said.
Regarding the appointment of Ho Duc Viet, a senior Party official, to chair the Viet Nam-Japan Parliamentary Friendship Alliance, Takebe said it reflected Viet Nam’s gesture to respect relations with Japan.
In the interview, the law-maker also referred to the alliance’s role in facilitating Viet Nam’s three key projects, namely the Hoa Lac hi-tech park, the North-South express rail and highway.
"The alliance has decided to set up a research team on the three projects. As soon as the team was set up in April, 2007, its members held the first meeting in June, drawing Governmental officials and business circles. The second meeting is slated to take place in November prior to President Triet’s coming visit," he said.
According to Takebe, the alliance was founded in late 1970 and so far has a 142-strong membership, who come from various political parties. It is the largest ever friendship alliance.
The alliance organises an annual trip for Japanese politicians and officials of relevant agencies to Viet Nam in an effort to boost relations between Viet Nam and Japan.
The organisation’s contributions to relations between the two countries include its lobby among the Ministry of Transport to open commercial flights between Narita and Noi Bai airports, Takebe said.
The alliance’s president said that the alliance had also campaigned for the Government’s ODA grant and technical assistance in setting up four laboratories for high-risk virus tests for bird flu control in Viet Nam.
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