Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has criticized the recent speech of his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong, in which he had accused Vietnam of 'invading' Cambodia to overthrow the Khmer Rouge in 1979.
Following a request from Singapore, the two premiers joined talks on Saturday afternoon, on the sidelines of the 34th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok, Thailand, which is scheduled for June 22 and 23.
During their conversation, PM Phuc criticized the speech of PM Lee on May 31, in which he accused Vietnam of 'invading' Cambodia to topple the Khmer Rouge in 1979, according to the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The accusation was mentioned in PM Lee's remarks at the Shangri-La Dialogue as well as his Facebook status which was written to express condolences on the passing of former Thai PM Prem Tinsulanonda.
According to the Vietnamese premier, history has proven that Singapore's judgments about the role of Vietnam at the time were not correct.
These prejudices deeply hurt Vietnam and Cambodia, especially the families of the Vietnamese volunteer soldiers who had sacrificed themselves to bring peace and free the Cambodian people from the brutal Khmer Rouge regime, he continued.
PM Lee stated he did not intend to hurt Vietnam, adding that he was just talking about a sad chapter in Indochina's history to reiterate that today's peace, stability, and prosperity were not easily achieved.
The current situation also requires ASEAN to continue maintaining solidarity and boosting cooperation among member nations, he added.
The Singaporean head of government stressed that his country attaches importance to the relationship with Vietnam and praised Hanoi’s contribution to the preservation of peace, security, stability, and development in the region.
Both leaders agreed that their meeting had helped them understand each other better. They consented to prioritize the enhancement of Vietnam-Singapore strategic partnership and multi-faceted cooperation.
Both sides will further strengthen exchanges and coordination regarding regional and international issues.
The two leaders also reached consensus on strengthening maritime cooperation, fully implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Vietnam Sea (DOC), and striving toward the early establishment of a Code of Conduct (COC) for the maritime area.