Last week, Mongolia’s defense minister paid a visit to Vietnam. The trip highlighted ongoing efforts by both countries to advance aspects of their defense collaboration as part of their wider relationship amid broader domestic and regional developments.
Mongolia and Vietnam have been developing a defense relationship as part of their wider diplomatic ties over the past few years. Indeed, a memorandum of understanding inked by both sides back in 2013 had included aspects of security collaboration that both sides could look to build on, including an exchange of delegations, training, UN peacekeeping operations, and natural disaster response.
Last week, the defense aspect of the relationship was in the spotlight with the visit of Mongolia’s defense minister to Vietnam. Mongolian Defense Minister Nyamaa Enkhbold was on an official visit to Vietnam that lasted from November 28 to December 1.
Enkhbold’s visit, which came as both countries commemorated the 65th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relationship, consisted of a series of interactions. In terms of meetings, this included interactions with top Vietnamese officials including Defense Minister Ngo Xuan Lich and Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh.
Per the official account of Vietnam’s defense ministry, Enkhbold’s discussions with Lich touched on the state of bilateral ties as well as a series of wider regional and global matters, such as North Korea and the South China Sea, which are of interest to both and will be of particular focus for Vietnam in 2020 as it holds the annually rotating chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Additionally, the two countries also signed a government-level agreement on defense cooperation. While few details were provided on the specifics of the pact itself, the agreement was messaged as building on aspects that had been discussed before, including foreign language training, military medicine, culture and arts, military sports, UN peacekeeping operations, logistics, and defense industry. Some of these areas have been discussed before, including in broader interactions this year tied to the 65th anniversary such as the eighth political consultation held at the deputy foreign minister level in Hanoi that had taken place in August.
Based on what has been publicly disclosed thus far, even though Vietnam and Mongolia appear to be still in the early stages of their defense ties, both sides nonetheless appear keen to explore advancing collaboration in certain agreed areas. How they will actually look to do so will be worth watching in the coming months and years.