Vietnam, Australia to boost military ties

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Vietnam and Australia on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding that foresees stepped-up joint military training and exercises, Australia said.

Canberra's Minister for Defense, Stephen Smith, and his Vietnamese counterpart Phung Quang Thanh signed the document ahead of an inaugural Asia-wide defense forum being held in the Vietnamese capital on Tuesday.

"It will provide the framework for enhanced practical cooperation between Australia and Vietnam in areas including strategic level policy dialogue, military training and exercises, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief," a statement from the Australian embassy in Hanoi said.

Vietnam and Australia last year established a "Comprehensive Partnership Agreement" covering trade, development assistance, security and defense.

Australia's Smith is among eight regional defense ministers, including from the United States, who will meet Tuesday with their counterparts from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which is currently chaired by Vietnam.

Australia fought alongside the United States during the Vietnam War, which ended in 1975, but Canberra and Hanoi now have broad-based ties.

"The MOU reflects the growing bilateral defense relationship between Australia and Vietnam," said the statement.

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