Hanoi plays a crucially important role in South Korea’s effort to extend its sphere of influence in Southeast Asia, the latter’s defense minister said on Monday during his visit to Vietnam between June 3 and 5.
South Korean defense minister Song Young-moo told his Vietnamese counterpart Ngo Xuan Lich in Hanoi that Vietnam is a vital factor in the success of the ‘New Southern Policy,’ a new push the East Asian country unveiled last year.
The policy is meant to forge links between South Korea and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and expand Asia’s fifth-largest economy in this region.
Vietnam is expected to serve as an effective gateway to ASEAN markets for South Korea.
Young-moo reiterated Vietnam’s centrality in the association and East Asia, and said multifaceted strategic collaboration between Vietnam and South Korea had witnessed strong growth in recent years.
|Song Young-moo (L) and Ngo Xuan Lich shake hands at the Ministry of Defense’s headquarters in Hanoi, Vietnam, June 4, 2018. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Minister Lich praised Young-moo’s visit, saying that it would maintain the camaraderie and build up political trust between Seoul and Hanoi.
Lich and Young-moo endorsed the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and respected the long-term development of the Vietnam-South Korea relations.
Both officials wanted to effect drastic change in defense cooperation, especially in the implementation of the Joint Vision Statement on Defense Cooperation with a vision toward 2030 – an agreement Vietnam and South Korea signed in April 2018.
They agreed to strengthen the bilateral military cooperation in human resources training and national defense industry in the foreseeable future.
Lich and Young-moo also decided to realize joint projects in searching for the remains of missing soldiers and to diminish the impact left by post-war bombs and landmines in Vietnam.
On the same day, Vietnamese and South Korean defense ministries signed a memorandum of understanding on mutual logistic assistance in conducting U.N. peace-keeping activities, on humanitarian support and disaster relief efforts.
|Song Young-moo (black suit) shakes hands with a Vietnamese official at the Ministry of Defense’s headquarters in Hanoi, Vietnam, June 4, 2018. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Young-moo’s official arrival to Vietnam was a response to Minister Lich’s invitation and followed a state visit in March by South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his spouse as one of the first moves in the Southeast Asian country for the New Southern Policy.
South Korea is Vietnam’s second-largest partner in trade and provision of official development assistance, and also its second-largest source of tourists, said a Vietnamese official.
Bilateral trade between the two countries was worth $61.5 billion in 2017, according to figures released by the General Department of Vietnam Customs.