_: I warmly welcome His Excellency Mr Le Luong Minh, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and his delegation to OR Tambo Building, which is the Head Quarters of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa.
My colleague and I co-chaired the second meeting of the South Africa-Vietnam Partnership Forum today. The meeting took place within the ambit of the bilateral Agreement concerning the Establishment of an Inter-Governmental Partnership Forum for Economic, Trade, Scientific, Technical and Cultural Co-operation, which was concluded between our two countries in 2004.
The main objectives of the meeting were the following:
To review the entire scope of bilateral relations;
To redefine and refocus on the priority areas of bilateral co-operation in order to maximise existing opportunities; and
To reaffirm the excellent relations and friendship that exist between South Africa and Vietnam.
The bond of friendship between our two countries and peoples is strong and has deep roots. South Africa attaches considerable importance to its relationship with Vietnam and regards Vietnam as a staunch friend and ally.
Structured bilateral meetings are important to ensure that partner countries regularly review the scope of their relationship and identify new areas of cooperation. For this reason, the meeting of the Partnership Forum played an important part in further strengthening and deepening the bilateral relationship between South Africa and Vietnam.
Our senior officials met yesterday to discuss areas of mutual interest and cooperation at the technical level and to prepare Action Plans for future joint action. Today, the senior officials reported back to my colleague and myself on the work that was done and the progress achieved in the following areas:
Cooperation at Foreign Office level in both the bilateral and the multilateral field.
Defence cooperation, including in the defence related industries.
Cooperation in environmental affairs. This includes further discussions with the aim of finalising negotiations on a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Cooperation in the field of Biodiversity Conservation and Protection. The scope of the MoU covers cooperation between our two countries in the field of biodiversity management, law enforcement, compliance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and other relevant legislation.
Trade relations, specifically the potential for expansion of trade.Cooperation on water affairs in terms of the MoU on Cooperation in the Field of Water Resources which was concluded between our two countries in October 2010.
Cooperation on justice matters, specifically further negotiation with the aim of concluding an Agreement on Cooperation in the Legal Field and an Extradition Treaty.
To conclude, I am happy to say that a great deal of progress was made at the Meeting of the Partnership Forum and that the bilateral relationship between South Africa and Vietnam has been re-invigorated and further strengthened. I look forward to a productive period of concrete cooperation ahead.
I now invite Deputy Minister Le Luong Minh to address the media.