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Sutton Speech: New Vietnamese embassy opening

Jim Sutton Speech: New Vietnamese embassy opening,Wellington

Minister, excellencies, Your Worship the Mayor of Wellington, Ladies and Gentlemen: It's a great pleasure to be invited to represent the New Zealand government at this important and memorable event, the opening of the Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to New Zealand.

I would like to extend the warmest welcome to His Excellency Mr Nguyen Dinh Bin, Standing Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam and his delegation who have travelled here for this occasion. I understand that this is not the first time that you have visited Wellington as you came here in 1990/1991 to study English at Victoria University.

I would also like to welcome Mr Tran Tai Hau, Viet Nam's new Charge d'Affaires, and his staff who have worked hard to organise this function. Congratulations to all of you.

New Zealand has had an Embassy in Ha Noi since 1995. Since then we have seen a steady development in our friendship and bilateral links, with important progress in areas such as education. Just last month I had the pleasure to visit Viet Nam and to see in greater depth the reality and warmth of our dealings.

I was struck by the sense of vitality and energy in your country ? qualities that have enabled Viet Nam to achieve impressive results in reducing poverty, and in embarking on a path of serious economic reform. Viet Nam is certainly a country on the move.

As part of this process, and as a mark of Viet Nam's economic progress, Viet Nam has applied to join the WTO. New Zealand strongly supports this bid and is working closely with Viet Nam to see the achievement of this goal.

Integration into the world economy will be important for Viet Nam, and it will open up new economic opportunities for New Zealand business. I believe there are opportunities for New Zealand and Viet Nam to work together in fields such as the dairy processing sector.

As I said, educational links between New Zealand and Viet Nam are strong and growing. The number of Vietnamese students studying in New Zealand bodes well for increasing our people to people links. It is wonderful to go to Viet Nam and discover so many people there who have trained in NZ and who have gone on to have successful careers.

These days New Zealand has extensive contacts with Viet Nam in various regional meetings, particularly ASEAN related ones. In particular I value the opportunity to meet my Vietnamese counterpart at the annual meetings of the ASEAN and CER Economic Ministers, where we are jointly discussing the important issue of a Closer Economic Partnership between the ASEAN Free Trade Area and CER partners.

In New Zealand we have all been impressed by Viet Nam's success in containing an outbreak of SARS which could have proved a threat to its national health. Your authorities moved decisively to implement the appropriate measures and they are an example of effective handling of this disease which poses a potential threat to all our countries. We hope that the economic impact of SARS in South East Asia and beyond will be short-lived.

Thank you again for the opportunity to officiate at this opening of the Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to New Zealand in Wellington. It is the 35th diplomatic mission in our capital and it brings the very active group of ASEAN missions to six. So their voice will be heard even more widely than ever!

I extend my best wishes to the Embassy for its future operations. The government of New Zealand welcomes you and stands ready to extend you all the assistance it can.

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