Last week, Vietnam and Italy held the latest iteration of their defense dialogue. The holding of the meeting highlighted some of the ongoing activity within the defense aspect of the relationship between the two countries amid wider domestic and foreign policy developments.
Vietnam and Italy have official diplomatic relations dating back to 1973, and the two sides had elevated their ties to the level of a strategic partnership in 2013. The defense relationship between the countries is structured under a memorandum of understanding on defense cooperation that was signed by both sides in 2013.
In recent years, both sides have been discussing ways to further advance certain aspects of collaboration, including defense industry and military trade. Those conversations have continued on into 2019 as well. Indeed, during the visit of Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to Vietnam in June, while both sides discussed a range of issues, defense matters also factored into their interactions as well, with the spotlight on areas such as technology and naval shipbuilding.
One of the manifestations of the defense relationship between the two sides has been the Vietnam-Italy Defense Policy Dialogue. The last iteration of the Dialogue was held back in 2017 in Rome, where the two sides discussed a range of security issues including counterterrorism, maritime security, and North Korea, while also attempting to strengthen areas of collaboration such as training and education.
Last week, the defense aspect of the relationship was in the headlines with the holding of the third iteration of the Vietnam-Italy Defense Policy Dialogue. The Dialogue was held in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi, and it was co-chaired by Vietnam’s deputy defense minister, Be Xuan Truong, and Italy’s undersecretary for defense affairs, Angelo Tofalo.
As is the case with such meetings, during the dialogue, Truong and Tofalo reviewed the development of bilateral defense relations, exchanged views on global and regional issues of mutual concern, and discussed areas for future collaboration. Per Vietnam’s defense ministry, areas where both sides plan to focus on more include promoting coordination at multilateral mechanisms and forums, promoting cooperation in training languages for personnel of the two militaries, boosting cooperation in UN peacekeeping operations via exchanges of experts, and establishing an international cooperation mechanism on mine action in Vietnam.
Apart from the holding of the dialogue itself, Tofalo’s visit also saw him undertake several other defense-related interactions as well. Per Vietnam’s defense ministry, this included a meeting with other Vietnamese officials including Phan Van Giang, the chief of the general staff of the Vietnam People’s Army.