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Mr Minister [of Defence of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, General Ngô Xuân Lịch], you are very much welcome today, here in Brussels, after having had the pleasure of visiting you in Hanoi last August. You promised me that we would sign this Agreement during your visit here in October and I am extremely pleased to see that we managed to finalise this important Agreement, which represents another step forward in the strong partnership that the European Union and Viet Nam have built.
This Agreement allows Viet Nam to participate in the European Union’s missions and operations. We have 16 of them around the world and I understand that Viet Nam has already expressed an interest in looking into the possibility of participating in one of our training missions in Africa. This would add an enormous potential to our already-strong cooperation on security and defence issues, which we discussed during my last visit to Hanoi. And I am sure that this will contribute to strengthening the overall European Union-Vietnam, but also the European Union-ASEAN [the Association of Southeast Asian Nations] and EU-Asia cooperation in this field.
I believe that this represents a very important additional element of a very strong partnership that we have already in many different fields, starting from trade and contacts between our people. I am very much looking forward to having our teams implement this Agreement and also to working together very closely with Viet Nam as you will take the chairmanship of ASEAN.
Let me end by thanking you [Minister General Ngô Xuân Lịch] personally for the commitment that you have put into these record fast negotiations that we have had. Also to our teams and all the Vietnamese authorities that have put a lot of interest and energy into the finalisation of this very important agreement, and thank you for coming to Brussels to sign it.