New Zealand Embassy Ha Noi, Viet Nam

First visit by a Vietnamese Defence Minister to New Zealand

New Zealand and Vietnamese Defence Ministers meet in Auckland, 22 March. Photo courtesy of VN Ministry of Defence.

Minister of Defence and Member of the Communist Party Politburo, H.E. General Phung Quang Thanh, made history last week by becoming the first Defence Minister of Viet Nam to visit New Zealand.  Minister Thanh visited Wellington and Auckland as a Guest of Government during a five-day visit from 20-25 March.

During his visit Minister Thanh met New Zealand Minister of Defence Hon. Dr Jonathan Coleman, Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. Murray McCully, the NZ Chief of Defence Force, NZ Secretary of Defence and members of the New Zealand business community.  The Minister also visited our National Defence College.

“This was a welcome opportunity for a bilateral meeting and we discussed a broad range of defence-related issues in Asia Pacific, as well as opportunities for future cooperation in the region,” said Dr Coleman.  Defence Ministers discussed the scope for strengthened bilateral defence links in future, building on previous cooperation in areas such as English language training and officer training.  Ministers also agreed to pursue heightened contact and cooperation in regional fora such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the ASEAN Defence Ministers Plus (ADMM+) mechanism, in which both New Zealand and Viet Nam are members.  New Zealand currently co-chairs the ADMM+ Expert Working Group on Peacekeeping, with Viet Nam co-chairing a similar group on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief.

This is the third visit by a member of Viet Nam’s Politburo since 2009:  then-General Secretary of the Communist Party Central Committee Nong Duc Manh visited in September 2009, and Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc visited in April 2012.

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