Aust to help Vietnam prepare UN mission

Australia and Vietnam will strengthen defence links as Vietnamese troops prepare for their first United Nations peacekeeping mission.

Defence Minister Stephen Smith met Vietnam's Minister of National Defense General Phung Quang Thanh for the inaugural annual Australia-Vietnam Defence Ministers' meeting in Canberra on Tuesday.

Mr Smith said 2013 marked the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Australia and Vietnam and a close and prosperous relationship had developed.

"This includes a strong defence relationship, which has grown in recent years based on practical cooperation, people-to-people links and dialogue on strategic and defence issues," he said in a statement.

In Vietnam in October 2010, the ministers signed the Australia-Vietnam Memorandum of Understanding on Defence Cooperation.

Mr Smith said they had now agreed to further practical steps to enhance the defence relationship.

Australian and Vietnam will conduct an annual "1.5 track" defence dialogue, bringing together experts to share opinions and views on regional issues and to discuss methods to enhance bilateral cooperation.

Australia will also provide training to Vietnam as it prepares to deploy troops on United Nations peacekeeping missions for the first time, Mr Smith said.

Eighty places for military and English training will be offered in Australia including a further post-graduate scholarship position for the Vietnam People's Army in 2014.

It takes the total post-graduate scholarship positions offered to Vietnam to 11 in 2013 and 12 in 2014.

"Minister Thanh and I also undertook to look for further opportunities to enhance military engagement, including in areas such as maritime security cooperation," Mr Smith said.

The ministers laid a wreath at the Australian War Memorial and visited Governor-General Quentin Bryce.

9News National

Vietnam to Participate in UN Peacekeeping Missions


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