In an interview granted to the Vietnam News Agency (VNA)'s resident correspondents in Sydney ahead of the PM’s trip from June 3-4, Thanh said the visit takes place at a time when the two countries are celebrating the 50th founding anniversary of the bilateral diplomatic ties and the 5th anniversary of the strategic partnership.
This is the second official visit to a Southeast Asian nation by PM Albanese since he took office, and the third to Vietnam by an Australian PM, the ambassador said, noting that the trip shows PM Albanese’s administration attaches importance to Vietnam.
Thanh also recalled the visit to Vietnam by Australian Governor-General David Hurley in April, which was his only State-level visit to a Southeast Asian nation, and another trip to Vietnam by Minister for Trade and Tourism Don Farrell in the same month.
In June 2022, Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong selected Vietnam as the first ASEAN country to pay an official visit. Five months later, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles visited Vietnam and implemented the first annual defence dialogue at the ministerial level between the two countries.
Meanwhile, National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue was the first high-ranking leader of Vietnam to visit Australia in the past five years, he said, recalling other trips by Politburo member and head of the Party Central Committee’s Commission for Internal Affairs Phan Dinh Trac and Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son.
Notably, following their phone talks in October 2022, PM Pham Minh Chinh and his Australian counterpart Albanese met on the occasion of the ASEAN Summit in November of the same year and the G7 Summit last May. Also in May, Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong had a meeting with PM Albanese on the occasion of the coronation of King Charles III of the UK.
Thanh expressed his belief that with efforts of the two sides, the upcoming visit will create a foundation for the bilateral ties to grow further, both bilaterally and multilaterally.
According to the diplomat, PM Albanese, who is also leader of the Australian Labour Party, is scheduled to meet with General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong as part of his trip. Their meeting is expected to consolidate strategic confidence and lay a ground for the bilateral relations in the coming decades.
The ambassador stressed that the implementation of the Australia – Vietnam Enhanced Economic Engagement Strategy for the 2021-2025 period has reaped specific results in trade, education-training, and people-to-people exchanges.
However, it needs more instructions of the two countries’ leaders to achieve all of the set targets, particularly in investment, labour and culture.
Therefore, Thanh continued, the first official talks between the two PMs is hoped to outline new orientations for bilateral and multilateral cooperation, and identify cooperation priorities in the new period.
He held that the two countries would prioritise cooperation in climate change response, digital transformation, green development, clean energy and sustainable supply chain, as well as coordination at the Mekong sub-region, ASEAN, and other regional and international forums, which are expected to become new cooperation pillars elevating the Vietnam-Australia strategic partnership to a new height.
The two PMs are also scheduled to witness the signing of some cooperation agreements in trade, finance, science-technology and education-training, and the launching of new direct air routes.
Thanh said Vietnam has been pursuing a foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, and expanding, diversifying and multilateralising international relations, while Australia has given more priorities to relations with neighbouring countries and treasured its ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Vietnam is a member.
The two countries share fundamental values like peace, democracy, justice and equality, he said, adding that they have paid attention to regional interests and coordinated in such multilateral forums like ASEAN, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum and the United Nations (UN).
Their comprehensive cooperation has been enhanced in all the Party, State and people-to-people exchange channels, and progress has been made in key cooperation areas like economy, national defence-security, science-technology, human resources development and tourism.
Australia is now Vietnam’s seventh biggest trading partner, Thanh went on, emphasising Australia’s increasing official development assistance (ODA) to Vietnam, its donation of COVID-19 vaccines, as well as the country’s support in peacekeeping and high-quality personnel training.
On the occasion of the Australia visit by NA Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue last year, the two sides announced their intention to upgrade the bilateral relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership at an appreciate time.
The ambassador noted that PM Albanese's visit will create a new framework for the relations in all channels and further deepen the strategic trust between the two countries, towards a common vision for the next 50 years.
It is also expected to bring about breakthroughs in economic ties, and open up new cooperation opportunities in climate change response, digital transformation and clean energy, while orienting cooperation between localities of the two countries more clearly, and deepening and advancing multilateral collaboration, he said.