Late last month, Vietnam’s deputy defense minister paid a visit to Cuba. The trip spotlighted the ongoing activity within the military aspect of the relationship amid a key year in the ties between the two countries.
Vietnam and Cuba, two of the longest-surviving communist countries in the world, have long enjoyed a relationship that extends into the defense domain. The official contemporary diplomatic relationship began back in 1960.
This year, the relationship has been in the headlines more so than usual with the commemoration of one of the symbolic events in bilateral ties: the 45th anniversary of Cuban leader Fidel Castro’s visit to Vietnam in 1973. Both sides planned a series of activities that have been held through the year, with a key one being a meeting on September 12 in Cuba bringing together hundreds of participants.
Last week, the defense aspect of the relationship was in the spotlight again with the visit of Deputy Defense Minister Tran Don to Cuba. Don led a delegation of defense officials and military enterprises to Cuba from September 21 to September 27.
Don’s visit included several engagements, including meetings with Cuban officials such as Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (MINFAR) Leopoldo Cintra Frias and other defense and political personnel from bodies including MINFAR, the ministry of foreign trade and investment, and the chamber of commerce.
According to Vietnam’s defense ministry, the talks addressed a range of subjects tied to the defense aspect of bilateral ties. These included reviewing the implementation of their defense cooperation plans for the 2017-2019 period, as well as discussions on cooperation in economic and trade between their military firms, including areas such as telecommunications, shipbuilding, maritime transport, logistics, and construction.
In addition to these meetings, there were also a number of other engagements as well, including a wreath-laying at the President Ho Chi Minh Monument at the Hoa Binh Park in La Havana, a tribute to late President Tran Dai Quang at the Embassy of Vietnam in Cuba, and a trade and investment promotion conference that saw the participation of a number of military and civilian companies from Vietnam and Cuba.
To be sure, Don’s visit was just one of several within the bilateral defense relationship. Nonetheless, it did offer a window into the ongoing activity within the military aspect of ties between the two sides that will continue to be important to watch through the rest of 2018 and beyond.