Vietnam and Italy agree to strengthen ties

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Vietnam and Italy have agreed to establish a strategic partnership during a visit by Vietnam's Communist Party Secretary-General Nguyen Phu Trong to the southern European nation.

Under the agreement, the two sides will boost their bilateral relationship by cooperating in major fields such as politics, economics, culture, education, technology, security and national defense, according to Tuesday Vietnam News Agency report.

Trong and Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti on January 21 attended a ceremony in which several additional Memorandums of Understanding were signed.

Among them were those dealing with customs between two nations and cooperation between their respective state-owned oil and gas companies.

Trong's three-day visit from January 20-22, which marked the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries, came at the invitation of Italian President Giorgio Napolitano.

Trong told the Italian president in their meeting on January 21 that Vietnam always appreciates cooperating with Italy, a member state of the European Union (EU).

He said he believed the visit would mark a new level of bilateral relations between the two countries.

Napolitano was quoted by the Vietnam News Agency as saying that Italy expected to foster not only further bilateral cooperation, but also cooperation between EU and ASEAN in general.

In addition to the Italian prime minister and president, the Vietnamese delegation also met with other high-ranking Italian officials including Minister of Foreign Affairs Giulio Terzi, as well as members of the local Vietnamese community.

They attended several events such as a ceremony held in honor of the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties, an exhibition in Rome on Vietnamese-Italian solidarity from 1960-1970, and an official state dinner presided over by President Napolitano.

Before his arrival in Italy, the Vietnamese Secretary-General and his delegation visited EU member state Belgium from January 17-20.

Italy's Minister of National Defense, Admiral Giampaolo di Paola made his first-ever trip to Vietnam from January 10-12 at the invitation of his Vietnamese counterpart, General Phung Quang Thanh.

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