US veterans visit HCM City

A group of US Vietnam War veterans returning to the battlefields of their past recently visited HCM City to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the war and the upcoming lunar New Year Festival (Tet).

Marsha Lynn Four, the group’s leader who is Vice President of the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) said their goal was to turn back a page in history and to right a wrong by expressing honour and respect to all Vietnam veterans and their families.

“We’re here to learn how to help Vietnam veterans heal and pledge our continued support for Agent Orange victims and help to overcome other consequences of the war," Four said.

We are all surprised that many of the battlefields are now tourist sites she stressed, adding that it is a symbol of Vietnam’s rapidly changing culture”, she said.

The US official also hailed HCM City’s rapid development over the past 40 years and expressed a desire for continued joint cooperation in the search for more remains of US soldiers missing in action during the war in Vietnam.

To date, the VVA found 299 sets of remains out of 2,000 missing US soldiers.

Vietnam attends ASEAN Supreme Audit Institutions Summit

A Vietnamese delegation led by Deputy Auditor General of the State Audit Office of Vietnam (SAV) Doan Xuan Tien attended the Supreme Audit Institutions Summit of ASEAN member states (ASEANSAI) which opened in Kuala Lumpur on February 8.

Addressing the opening session, Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman highlighted the significance of the ASEANSAI in improving public sector audits in the 10 ASEAN countries.

He also spoke highly of the initiative and co-operative efforts shown by ASEAN audit agencies since the ASEANSAI’s establishment in 2011, declaring it an important contribution to the development of the ASEAN Community by 2015.

Heads of the ASEAN member states’ supreme audit agencies discussed adjusting the ASEANSAI agreement, intensifying its function and proposing the establishment of a Regional Engineering Technical Association (RETA) of the Asia Development Bank (ADB).

The State Audit of Vietnam, as head of the Strategic Planning Committee of ASEANSAI, delivered a report on the monitoring and evaluation systems of the ASEANSAI.

The Vietnamese delegation is scheduled to take part in the 13th Asian Supreme Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (ASOSAI) and other programmes in Kuala Lumpur from February 10-14.

Deputy PM: Vietnam’s int’l integration process enters important period

Vietnam’s international integration process has entered a new and important period which will offer a new development space for the country, businesses and each citizen but also create a number of challenges, including new and unprecedented issues.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh emphasised this at a workshop on international integration in HMC City on February 6.

He stated that 2015 is very important for the country as it will have to fulfil a five-year socio-economic development plan (2011-2015), the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and post-2015 Development Agenda and strongly implement the international integration process through actively taking part in cooperative mechanisms and completing negotiations on free trade agreements (FTAs).

Minh said the country’s GDP growth mainly depends on trade and exports. After joining FTAs, especially those of new generation like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), Vietnam can expand markets, and import high-quality machines and materials at cheap prices, which help lower products’ prices, improve competitive edge for exports and generate more jobs. Small-and medium-sized enterprises are offered favourable conditions to operate while business and investment environment is more equal and transparent. However, businesses will have to abide by stricter regulations and confront fierce competition.

Vietnam should accelerate institution reform, complete laws and policies, and improve economic competitiveness, Minh stressed, adding that it requires both the Government and businesses to build governance and management capacity.

Minh valued HCM City as the leading economic hub in the country’s socio-economic development and international integration process, saying that the city and its businesses should be pioneers in grasping opportunities and knowing how to overcome difficulties and challenges in the regional and global playground.

Participants at the workshop also discussed issues related to Vietnam’s development environment and security, the ASEAN Community, and opportunities and challenges for localities and businesses in the new integration period.

PM Nguyen Tan Dung works with Ca Mau province

A government delegation led by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung paid a working visit to the Mekong Delta province of Ca Mau on February 8.

PM Dung praised the province’s achievements in overcoming difficulties and challenges in 2014. He also highly appreciated the outstanding results Ca Mau has obtained in socio-economic development and implementation of the national target programme on creating modern rural areas in the last year.

He said that the province should work hard to achieve set targets of the five-year plan, as well as make thorough preparations for Party congresses at all levels, and work out socio-economic development plans for the future.

He asked the province to make appropriate planning for shrimp cultivation areas and upgrade infrastructure for the sustainable development of the local fisheries industry, while paying more attention to improving people’s lives and mobilising local resources for the cause of building modern rural areas.

Ca Mau was also requested to promptly renovate State-run enterprises, specifically forestry companies, to increase efficiency and budget contribution, and to arrange the handover of forests and forest land to improve the efficiency of forest management, development and protection.

The PM suggested local authorities increase the efficiency of hunger eradication and poverty reduction policies and pay more attention to education and training for the development of the country.

Overseas Vietnamese praised for linking Vietnam with other countries

More than 4.5 million Overseas Vietnamese (OVs) living around the world have contributed effectively to linking Vietnam and their host countries, promoting Vietnamese culture as well as attracting investment to their homeland.

The remark was made by Chairman of Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee Le Hoang Quan at a gathering held in HCMC on February 7 as part of the ‘Xuan Que Huong’ (Spring in the Homeland) – an annual event to usher in the Lunar New Year by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and the municipal People’s Committee.

The gathering was attended by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, Secretary of the HCMC Party Committee Le Thanh Hai, and nearly 700 representatives of OVs.

Chairman Quan briefed the OVs on the city’s achievements in economy, politics, society and culture in 2014 as well as the city’s target for development in 2015.

He also hailed the OVs contributions to boost the city’s development since the overseas remittance sent to HCMC in 2014 reached over US$ 5 billion. The OVs have also donated tens of billions of Vietnam Dong to support flood victims and to construct schools and bridges in rural areas.

At the event, 12 OVs collectives and 24 individuals were presented with MOFA certificates of merit for their significant contributions to consolidating Vietnamese communities in their host countries.

Mexico vows to attend IPU-132 in Hanoi

President of the Mexican Senate Miguel Barbosa Huerta has confirmed his country’s participation in the 132nd General Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU-132) slated for March in Hanoi .

Meeting newly-appointed Vietnamese Ambassador Le Linh Lan in Mexico City on February 7, Huerta said Mexico always wants to strengthen bonds with developing countries globally, including Vietnam .

He also extended the best greetings to Vietnamese leaders and wished that the IPU-132 will be a success.

Ambassador Lan reiterated Vietnam ’s high priority to solidifying ties with Mexico , the 12 th largest economy in the world and the leading trade partner of Vietnam in the Latin America .

The year of 2015 is of significance to the bilateral ties since Vietnam and Mexico are celebrating the 40 th anniversary of diplomatic ties and the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal is expected to be signed, opening up more cooperative opportunities for ASEAN and Latin American and the two countries in particular, she said.

Speaking highly of the growing bilateral ties, she affirmed that relationship between the two legislatures is a pillar and driving force of the two countries’ cooperation across the board.

She shared view with the host that the two countries are striving to develop themselves for their people’s well-being and for the world’s sustainable development.

Cambodian officials pay Tet visit to Binh Phuoc province

A delegation of senior officials from the Cambodian provinces of Kratie, Kampong Thom, Mudulkiri, and Tabong Khmum visited the neighbouring Vietnamese province of Binh Phuoc on February 6 on the occasion of the Lunar New Year (Tet).

Bidding New Year greetings to the local leaders and people, the Cambodian delegates thanked Vietnam in general and Binh Phuoc province in particular for the support given to Cambodian localities over the past time.

For his part, Chairman of the Binh Phuoc People’s Committee Nguyen Van Tram briefed his guests on the province’s socio-economic situation.

He also voiced his hope that the close friendship, cooperation and solidarity between the two countries and peoples will stay strong.

Last year, Binh Phuoc and Cambodian provinces signed cooperation agreements to boost ties in the fields of economy, trade, and agriculture.

Draft law on belief, religion under discussion

Representatives from religious communities shared their opinions and feedback on the draft Law on Belief and Religion during a seminar in Ho Chi Minh City on February 6.

Representatives from the Muslim community acknowledged that the bill has provisions that reflect respect for human rights and the right to religious freedom.

Vice General Secretary and Chief of the Office II of the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha Central Committee, Most Venerable Thich Thien Tong suggested banning superstitious practices and adding additional rights of religious followers and dignitaries into the Charter of each religion and the law.

Buddhist Nguyen Phuong Hien spoke of the need to establish a special mechanism for healthcare charity activities by religious organisations.

Several opinions called for the issuance of special regulations on the settlement of asset disputes by religious establishments.

Bui Thanh Ha, permanent Vice Chairman of the Government’s Committee for Religious Affairs, said the law should ensure the right to religious freedom and respect long-standing traditions of each religion.

Vietnam currently ranks third globally in terms of ethnic diversity and religion, he added.

He pledged to carefully consider all the received recommendations in the final modifications to the law.

Quang Binh province urged to develop agro-forestry-fishery

The central province of Quang Binh should fully tap its natural advantages to develop agriculture, forestry and fishery industries, Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong said in his visit to the province on February 6.

The Party leader told provincial officials that with mountains making up 85 percent of the province’s natural area, a 116-km coastline, and a vast continental shelf and economic exclusive zone, these sectors have great potential to develop along the path of industrialisation and modernisation.

He also suggested that Quang Binh should pay more attention to tourism development, noting that besides the UNESCO-recognised world natural heritage Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park, the province boasts numerous destinations for cultural and spiritual tourism.

The Party General Secretary hailed the province for its good performance in implementing the Party Central Committee’s Resolution on Party building. He required the local authorities to focus their efforts on organising Party Congresses at all levels in preparation for the 12th National Party Congress.

He urged more attention to the Party building work at the grassroots level, particularly in businesses, organisations and poor and ethnic minority regions, stressing that nothing can be done without capable cadres.

At the same time, the Party leader said Quang Binh, which shares over 200km of border lines with Laos, should foster the special friendship between Vietnam and Laos, contributing to safeguarding national independence and sovereignty, maintaining a peaceful and stable environment for national development.

During his tour to Quang Binh province, the Party chief presented gifts to the Vietnamese heroic mother Lai Thi Sen in Dong Hoi city and visited Phu Quy export wooden processing factory.

In 2014, Quang Binh achieved an economic growth target of 7.5 percent and harvested a record food output of 300,000 tonnes. The province has 12 communes recognised as meeting all 19 criteria of new-style rural areas. The tourism sector has gradually become a local economic spearhead, welcoming over 2.7 million visitors, nearly doubling the previous year, and grossing 1.6 trillion VND (76.19 million USD) in revenue. The rate of poor households was reduced by 5.5 percent last year.-       

President pays Tet visit to Hai Duong

President Truong Tan Sang on February 6 visited Nhan Quyen commune in Binh Giang district of the northern province of Hai Duong on the occasion of Lunar New Year Festival (Tet).

The President praised the commune’s achievements in socio-economic development, especially in meeting all 19 new-style rural area criteria last year.

He also called on the local authorities to further promote and share experiences in building new rural areas to other localities.

With the result of program building new rural areas, the living conditions of people in NhanQuyen commune have been improved remarkably.

The average per capita income in the commune came to about VND29 millions (US$1,380) last year.

Also on the occasion, the President presented New-Year gifts to families who rendered great services to the nation during the war for national liberation.

Cambodian, Vietnamese provinces partner in military cooperation

The military headquarters of Vietnam’s southern province of Tay Ninh and the Cambodian province of Tbong-Khmum signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on military cooperation on February 5.

The MoU focuses on seven key areas of future cooperation between the two sides, including greater collaboration on maintaining security and public order; combating crime along their shared border; mutual support on border delineation and land marker planting; and enhancing joint efforts to search for and return the remains of Vietnamese volunteers and soldiers who lost their lives during the war in Tbong-Khumum.

Both sides agreed to create favourable conditions for cross-border trade and healthcare, enhance experience exchange and organise arts-culture and sports events.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Colonel Vo Van Thi, head of the Tay Ninh Military Headquarters, hailed recent efforts of the two provinces to maintain a shared border of “peace and friendship”.

About 40 of the intended 42 border markers have been placed, with the remaining two to be completed this year. Since early 2014, over 66 leads have been verified with 26 martyr bodies uncovered and returned to their home country by Tay Ninh province’s Team K71 and Tbong-Khmum province, he added.

During the search for martyr remains, Team K71 presented gifts to and offered medical checkups for local residents in Cambodia while the Cambodian provincial armed forces called for information from the local people to provide direction for the search team.

VNA/Nhan Dan/VOV