ASEAN presidency chance for Vietnam to build 'soft power'

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As ASEAN president this year, Vietnam has a golden chance to boost its "soft power" - the ability to obtain what it wants through co-option and attraction, according to international relations scholar Joseph Nye.

The Harvard University professor said at a seminar held in Hanoi on Wednesday that Vietnam should lead ASEAN to an agreement on fighting climate change, and function as an initiator in other fields.

This would help the country protect its benefits while contributing to the world's development, he said.

Chairing the seminar, Deputy Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan said he had learned "more than expected" from Nye.

Nhan said it was a valuable opportunity for Vietnamese diplomats and scholars to have exchange with views with the professor who founded the "soft power" theory widely used in the world over the past two decades.

On Monday, Nye, who was voted as the sixth most influential scholar of the past 20 years and the most influential on American foreign policy by 1,700 international relations scholars in 2008, met with Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

At the meeting, Dung expressed hopes that Nye would make practical contributions to strengthening relations between Vietnam and the US as well as with the University of Harvard.

Nye said that the university was always interested in Vietnam. He expressed confidence that the country would grow strongly in the future with the globalization process throwing up more opportunities.

It was good that Vietnam chose to lead an open economy to attract foreign investment, he added.

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