New Asean Defense Grouping Promoted by VN Military

Senior Vietnamese military officials met with their Cambodian counterparts in Phnom Penh yesterday to communicate the importance they place on next month’s inaugural meeting of a new Asean-centered international security body.

The Asean Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus Eight grouping–comprising the ten Asean member nations, China, India, Russia, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and the US–will meet for the first time in Hanoi on Oct 11.

A Vietnamese delegation led by Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh, deputy Vietnamese defense minister, met with Prime Minister Hun Sen and senior Cambodian military officials to promote the multilateral body.

Colonel Vu Tien Trong, director of the institute for international relations at the Vietnamese Defense Ministry, told reporters yesterday afternoon that the new security group was a step forward for regional security.

“The purpose of our trip to Phnom Penh is to understand each other to make the meeting a success,” he said of yesterday’s meeting, adding that the planned agenda of next month’s meeting had been discussed between Cambodian and Vietnamese officials. “This is the first time for the countries in Asean to cooperate on the military” with other partners, he said.

During his meeting with Lt Gen Nguyen yesterday, Mr Hun Sen asked for Vietnam’s continued support in helping to train the Cambodian military, according to the premier’s assistant Eang Sophalleth.

Lieutenant General Chhum Sucheat, Defense Ministry spokesman, said afterwards that Vietnam had a strong history of providing assistance to Cambodia’s military. “Vietnam is one of the neighboring countries that helps our country a lot with [training] our human resources,” he said.

Col Vu said that the military relationship between Vietnam and Cambodia was strong and that the two neighbors shared a mutual interest in maintaining peace along their shared border and helping each other during natural disasters.

“We have common concerns about natural disasters like tsunamis or other [disasters]…. We have to cooperate to solve the problems,” he said.

Col Vu, however, would not be drawn on questions surrounding Cambodia’s ongoing border dispute with Thailand, saying that Vietnam could not interfere in the other nations’ affairs.


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