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Nov 27, 2022 / 21:58

Australia, Vietnam hold 1st Defense Ministers Meeting in Hanoi

The two countries are committed to upgrading cooperation in peacekeeping to a “Peacekeeping Partnership.”

High-Level Meeting of Defense Ministers between Australia and Vietnam took place in Hanoi for the first time, marking the intensified defense partnership of the two countries according to which both show concerns on the regional security issues.

  Vietnam's Minister of National Defence General Phan Van Giang and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence, Richard Marles MP in Hanoi on Nov 25. Photos: Embassy of Australia in Hanoi. 

Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defense, Richard Marles MP, held talks with Vietnam’s Minister of National Defense, General Phan Van Giang, on November 25.

The two sides shared ways for deepened relations and a strong stake in the future of the Indo-Pacific founded on international law with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at its core.

Speaking at the meeting, Giang highly appreciated Australia’s increasing support to Vietnam in the defense industry over the years, expecting further cooperation in military medicine, training, settling wartime aftermaths, and expansion of relations in new fields.

He hoped Australia to help improve the capacity of the Vietnam Department of Peacekeeping Operations and train manpower and support Vietnam’s nomination to high positions at the UN Peacekeeping missions and the UN’s Office.  

For his part, Marles said Australia values its strong and growing partnership with Vietnam. “We are committed to an open, inclusive, and resilient region, where all countries can exercise their sovereignty free from coercion.”

He said he was pleased to see first-hand our cooperation on peacekeeping and English language training.

At the milestone meeting, General Giang and Deputy PM Marles committed to upgrading cooperation on peacekeeping to a Peacekeeping Partnership. “Our cooperation in peacekeeping makes a valuable contribution to international security,” Marles noted.

On this occasion, Australia pledged to continue supporting the transport of Level-2 Hospitals to the UN Peacekeeping missions in the coming time.

While in Hanoi, Deputy Prime Minister Marles also met Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh to discuss opportunities under the Australia-Vietnam Strategic Partnership.

The Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Anzac is seen docked at Saigon port in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam on April 19, 2018. It was one of the three Australian Navy ships to make a four-day port call in Vietnam. Photo: The Anh/Vietnam News Agency via AP

Intensified defense cooperation

Formal defense relations between Australia and Vietnam were established in February 1999, with the opening of a Defense Attaché Office at the Australian Embassy in Hanoi. Vietnam’s first Defense Attaché to Australia took up his appointment in Canberra in September 2000.

The bilateral defense relationship includes regular Australian Defense Force ship visits to Vietnamese ports; training of Vietnamese military officers in Australia under the bilateral Defense Cooperation Program; and visits between Australian and Vietnamese Chiefs of Defense Force.

Australia and Vietnam signed a bilateral MOU on Defense Cooperation at the inaugural ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting-Plus held in Hanoi in 2010.

In August 2012, Australian and Vietnamese Defense Ministers agreed that both countries should take further practical steps to enhance the defense relationship and to progress a range of bilateral defense initiatives, including the establishment of an Annual Defense Ministers’ Dialogue.

The Inaugural Australia-Vietnam Defense Ministers’ Meeting was held in Canberra in March 2013.

Regarding Australia’s navy visits to Vietnam, Carl Thayer, emeritus professor at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Canberra, said regular goodwill visits to Vietnamese ports by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) have contributed to building up the defense cooperation relationship, indicating larger defense ties.

Thayer said that in referring to the visit to Cam Ranh International Port, Vietnam in September 2021 by three RAN naval ships (* HMAS Canberra, HMAS Anzac, and HMAS Sirius) during its Indo-Pacific Endeavour program inaugurated by Australia in 2017.

The fact that Vietnam received a RAN visit this year despite the Covid pandemic is a sign of the importance both sides place on bilateral defense cooperation, Prof. Thayer told The Hanoi Times.

Among the fields, peacekeeping is one of the key pillars of defense partnership.

In 2015, Australia and Vietnam signed an Implementing Arrangement on Peacekeeping Cooperation to promote professional development in peace operations training and education. Under this, Australia supports Vietnam’s Level 2 Field Hospital deployed in the UN Mission in South Sudan by providing specialist peacekeeping training and equipment.

In addition, Australia has provided a strategic airlift for all three rotations. Australia has also provided in-country English language training to peacekeeping personnel prior to deployment.

* His Majesty's Australian Ship (HMAS)