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Ireland’s president visits Vietnam; education, wind power deals expected

Monday, November 07, 2016, 10:48 GMT+7

Irish President Michael Daniel Higgins is on a state-level visit to Vietnam, scheduled for November 5 through 14, at the invitation of Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang.

Charlie Flanagan, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, as well as some Irish business leaders are also accompanying President Higgins in Hanoi.

President Higgins is slated to be formally welcomed at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi on Monday morning. After that, he will join talks with President Quang and the two will then speak to the press.

The Irish president will meet with Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, chairperson of Vietnam’s lawmaking National Assembly, on Monday afternoon.

On Tuesday morning, President Higgins will lay wreaths at a war memorial in the Vietnamese capital and talk to college students.

In the afternoon, he will engage in dialogue with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and pay a courtesy visit to Nguyen Phu Trong, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam.

The Irish leader will also inspect landmine clearance and poverty eradication projects sponsored by Ireland in the central city of Hue and the central province of Quang Tri, before visiting Ho Chi Minh City.

President Higgins spent his first day in Hanoi visiting the Temple of Literature and the Old Quarter, and he is expected to see Ha Long Bay before he leaves. 

The Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the state-level visit marks 20 years of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and Ireland (1996-2016) and will open a new chapter of cooperation between the two countries. 

Vietnam is the only Asian country among the nine nations Ireland supplies development assistance to.

Bilateral trade between Vietnam and Ireland reached US$402 million last year and rose to $798 million between January and September this year.

The Southeast Asian country earned $82 million from exports to Ireland in the period, with most derived from the export of timber and timber products, shoes and textiles.

Ireland now has 17 investment projects in Vietnam and the two nations have forged a strong relationship within the energy sector. In education, the two countries are working hard toward collaboration, with Ireland having provided 185 scholarships for Vietnamese students over the past few years.

During President Higgins’ visit, the two countries are scheduled to sign deals in education and training, as well as two wind power projects in the south-central province of Binh Thuan and the southern province of Soc Trang.

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